West Village owners mark upcoming start of downtown apartment construction

Jun. 14, 2013 @ 06:43 PM

About a month after a groundbreaking across from the Durham police headquarters for a different residential project, Durham officials gathered Friday to mark the upcoming construction of new apartments on West Morgan Street.

The developer behind the planned 156-unit project at 601 W. Morgan St. is the owner of West Village, the development of former Liggett Group tobacco buildings downtown that were renovated into apartments, offices, shops and restaurants.

Maryland-based Federal Capital Partners bought the first phase of West Village in late 2011 for $35.25 million, and then invested about $5 million to take control of the second phase.

The firm’s purchase came after members of the original development team behind West Village were pursued by a group of creditors that included banks, investors and professional athletes.

Federal Capital’s new apartment project on West Morgan Street is called West Village Phase III. It’s planned on a parking lot now used by residents of the West Village lofts, as well as by the Posh The Salon.

Construction is expected to begin in a few weeks and to last about 13 months, said Alex Marshall, a managing partner with Federal Capital Partners, at Friday’s groundbreaking. He said that during construction, residents and others will use a nearby under-utilized parking deck.

When the project is complete, West Village Phase III will include a parking deck as well as some on-street parking.

“We want to thank you for your confidence and investment in our downtown,” said Bill Kalkhof, the retired president of the downtown economic development group Downtown Durham Inc., speaking at Friday’s groundbreaking.

Kalkhof said outside investment planned by the Maryland-based firm and planned by other companies for other projects signify that downtown is now “on a national stage.”

He spoke of additional projects planned for downtown including the collegiate housing project under construction across from the Durham police headquarters. The partnership behind the project includes the Memphis, Tenn.-based publicly traded company EdR.

He said that kind of investment by outside developers was “unthinkable” 15 years ago.

Kalkhof also championed the residential development as helping the city’s downtown to have around-the-clock activity with people who live, work and play there.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell said he believes West Village Phase III is an upscale project that he believes will fit in well with the rest of downtown. In addition, he said it’s planned to be built without the help of city dollars.