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The architect behind DPAC has something 'interesting' planned for downtown Durham

Philip Szostak, the architect behind the Durham Performing Arts Center, and Paul Snow have submitted plans for a 6-story condo project on Washington Street in downtown Durham.
Philip Szostak, the architect behind the Durham Performing Arts Center, and Paul Snow have submitted plans for a 6-story condo project on Washington Street in downtown Durham. Courtesy of Szostak Design Inc.

The architect that designed the Durham Performing Arts Center has a new project in downtown Durham.

Chapel Hill-based architect Philip Szostak and business partner Paul Snow have submitted plans to the city-county planning department for a 6-story condo building at 802 Washington St. The building would have four units — one of which will be a penthouse that takes up the top two floors.

The building will occupy a thin piece of land on Washington Street across from the Blue Note Grill. Snow, who owns the land, said he was attracted to the northern part of downtown because of its thriving social scene. The area along Geer Street is populated by many popular bars, restaurants and coffeeshops.

The penthouse would overlook the old Durham Athletic Park and offer views of downtown.

“I had some goals for the project that were important for me,” Snow said of partnering with Szostak. “One of those goals is a building that I would find interesting ... and that (would be) an addition to the architecture landscape rather than derivative architecture that didn't have any identity to itself.”

Snow purchased the 0.1-acre property for $125,000 in 2016, according to county records. The property had an appraised value of $23,740 in 2016. Snow is also behind a residential project in Carrboro called Inara Court.

"It’s a very small piece of property — only 50 by 100 (feet)," Szostak said of the Washington Street land. "But with the (adjacent) alley it allowed every unit to have two parking spaces in their own garage underneath and still have a nice lobby on Washington Street. We didn't hit on it right away but as we studied the site … I think it jelled."

Besides DPAC, which opened in 2008, Szostak has also worked on projects such as the Aloft Hotel in downtown Durham, Capitol Broadcasting's headquarters in Raleigh and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem.

Szostak said he hopes to have the site plan approved in the next 30 days and for construction to start in four to five months. Snow added that he thinks construction could take around a year to finish, putting the project’s completion sometime in 2019.

None of the units have been sold yet, but Szostak isn’t worried about filling them. “We are only trying to sell four, we don’t have 80 to sell,” he said. Berkshire Hathaway will be handling sales for the project.

Prices for the units haven’t been decided yet, but the current market in downtown has condos going from the mid $400s to upper $500s per square foot, Szostak said.

The three units below the penthouse will be 2,000 square feet, while the penthouse will be 3,500 square feet, which would have the units selling in the $900,000 to $2 million range at current rates.

The Washington Street condos will join a string of recent condo projects to be built or planned for the downtown area. Chapel Hill-based East West Partners wants to build a 34-unit project on West Main Street, and a group of Raleigh developers plans to build 62 townhomes south of the Durham Police Headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street.

The Brannan, next to Durham Central Park, and One City Center are also two condo projects in downtown that have already been completed or under construction.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes
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