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owntown condos planned

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2/1/2013 - Downtown condos planned
by Jason Sandford - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Two local architects are planning to build a six-story building in downtown that will house 27 residential condominiums.

Peter Alberice and Robert Camille Jr. hope to break ground on the project later this year at 45 Asheland Ave., a site that is now home to ARC Document Solutions and across the street from the Asheville Transit Systems bus station. The building would house condos costing $400,000-$700,000.

The project is the latest sign that segments of the local real estate market are rebounding from the Great Recession. A project to build 13 new lofts on Rankin Avenue started earlier this year. Buncombe County's building permits for new houses showed a 20 percent increase during 2012.

The activity remains a far cry from what was happening in 2007, just before the real estate market crash, but William Coin and Scott Mills, the Beverly-Hanks & Associates brokers on the project, said interest is high in second-home owners seeking downtown condos.

"A lot of people are looking, and inventory is realatively low," Coin said. "I think there's a lot of room for growth in downtown."

The project will include 24, two-bedroom units and three, three-bedroom units with balconies and fully outfitted kitchens. The building will have parking and will feature a clubroom, as well as access to a rooftop outdoor space. The building also will include environmentally friendly features, such as recycled steel and energy-efficient mechanical equipment.

Alberice and Camille worked together on other downtown condo projects over the years, including one at 12 S. Lexington Ave. Construction on that 70,000-square-foot building with 34 residential condos started in 2005.

In the years leading up to the real estate market crash, downtown Asheville was a hotbed of plans for big condominium projects, some of which never got of the ground. Some of the bigger ideas included:

o The Ellington, a 23-story hotel and condominium project planned an L-shaped site adjoining Biltmore Avenue and Aston Street. City Council approved plans in October 2007, but the project never began.

o Parkside Condominiums, which was the initial plan for the former Hayes & Hopson Building near City Hall. Developer Stewart Coleman instead built Pack's Tavern restaurant.

o Zona Lofts was a planned 15-story building that would have contained 160 condos. City Council approved the Coxe Avenue project in August 2007 and excavation began at the site. But the project ended up in bankruptcy proceedings and the site was recently purchased by another developer.

o 60 North Market, a 66-unit condominium project finished in 2009. At the time, the developer said that sales of units slowed in 2007, but demand remained strong enough that he increased prices as building proceeded.

Mills said that, while interest in downtown condos is picking up, he doesn't expect a return to the boom times of the mid-2000s.

"I think we'll see a more moderate pace of growth," Mills said. "But this is still a place that people want to come town."

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