The lady in gray: KMD breathes new life, new purpose into Washington Building

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2017

By Mark Wineka

SALISBURY — The Washington Building’s granite facade makes it an imposing building right off the bat. But the space inside might be even more impressive.

On each of its three floors, the 1902 structure offers a good 5,000 square feet. KMD Construction has created a multipurpose orientation for the building, highlighted by six new apartments, a second floor big enough for a corporate headquarters, and additional ground-level retail space to pair with the Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar already in business.

Everywhere you look, there seems to be exposed brick, high ceilings, wainscoting, wide molding, ladders to tucked-away lofts, arched windows, wide halls, wooden floors, industrial stylings and room — lots of room.

“It’s amazing to see where it’s come,” says Kim Davis, co-owner of KMD Construction with her husband, Kyle. “We really believe in the downtown and support the efforts to bring residences and businesses here.”

The building at 118 N. Main St. — next to Hap’s Grill — is named the Washington Building because in 1791, President George Washington slept at the Yarborough House, which was on the same site.

Miller Davis Inc., which included Mike Miller’s advertising and public relations firm, formerly occupied the building, but the property went into foreclosure in 2012 and was eventually purchased by KMD Construction.

“I walked in and said, ‘We have to have it,'” Kim Davis recalls.

KMD Construction has been in business 17 years. It has had more experience with commercial projects such as grocery-store renovations, but it has taken on historic behemoths like the Washington Building in the past.

The Haywood County Courthouse in Waynesville is one example.

The Davises know that old buildings always have their challenges.

“The discovery phase is always interesting,” Kim Davis says. “… You never know what you’re going to run into.”

The Washington Building had fallen into neglect during the years it was empty. Windows were broken, rain had infiltrated, and dead pigeons, dirt and things left behind from 100 years of occupancy greeted the new owners.

But KMD overall found a structurally sound building.

“The bones were good,” Kim Davis says. “… The building itself is solid.”

Miller Davis had done a good job renovating the second floor for its headquarters. That floor has required mostly fire-suppression equipment and repainting. “Otherwise, the second floor is pretty intact,” Davis says.

The third floor was like a blank canvas for architect Pete Bogle. Using his designs, KMD carved out five spacious apartments on this floor. Rent will start at $1,200 a month.

Is that too pricey for Salisbury? Kim Davis doesn’t think so.

“There’s been a lot of interest,” she says.

Some of the units have more space than you would find in many houses. The third floor includes a pair of two-bedroom, two-bathroom units; a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment with a loft; a one-bedroom, one-bath unit with a loft; and a giant three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with the largest of lofts.

“They’re all just a little bit different from each other,” Davis says. “There are some quirky things, but we liked them.”

In the back of the building, a new walk-up apartment has been fashioned out of space never before used. The two-bedroom, two-bath unit has about 1,500 square feet, and light pours in from new windows in the back and previously boarded-up windows on the side.

All the kitchens — “generously sized,” Davis says — have a stainless-steel appliance package and microwave. The kitchens and bathrooms have granite counters. The kitchens also have a glass tile backsplash and industrial-styled lighting.

The bathrooms offer ceramic-tile floors and subway-tiled showers. Units have new thermal-efficient windows, except for the dramatic arched windows in the front apartments looking onto North Main Street.

Those windows are being refurbished, with exposed brick around them.

The building has new fire-suppression systems throughout. The sprinklers are exposed on the tall ceilings — at least 15 feet high in most apartments — along with the ductwork for heating and air conditioning.

All the apartments have hookups for washers and dryers.

An elevator is being installed at the rear of the building. The rear parking lot has 20 parking spaces designated for the Washington Building.

The North Main Street level offers a spacious retail space with an original tin ceiling next to the Shuckin’ Shack. Kim Davis says KMD is in negotiations with a possible tenant.

“We’re excited,” she says. “If it does work out, it would be great.”

Davis would say only that it would be a second location for a company already doing business in Rowan County.

As for the office space on the second floor, KMD is “looking for the right fit,” Davis says.

An open house will be held at the Washington Building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 22. Jayne Battle Helms of RE/MAX Leading Edge is the leasing agent.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.