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Real Estate - Residential

Townhomes Remain On The Rise

By Cece Nunn, posted Dec 15, 2017
Time Townhomes are coming to the Brooklyn Arts District in downtown Wilmington, one of many townhome projects in the Wilmington area. (Rendering courtesy of Peter Sweyer)
New townhomes are rising or on the way in Wilmington as demand and developer interest continues.
 
For one example, the first couple of units in the Time Townhomes development are coming out of the ground at 1002 N. Third St. in downtown Wilmington’s Brooklyn Arts District.
 
The townhomes are under development by Upper 90 of Wilmington and listed by Peter Sweyer of Century 21 Sweyer & Associates.
 
They’re a luxury product that builds on a concept started with Rogue, another Upper 90 townhome project in the district, but Time Townhomes bring that concept farther upmarket with concrete construction, two-car garages and other luxury touches, Sweyer said.
 
“These types of townhomes appeal to a wide range of buyers, and we see inquiries from young people, single people, young families all the way up to sort of preretirement and retirement age because they want to be part of the action [with a downtown location], but they want more luxurious amenities,” Sweyer said.
 
He said such buyers, “want an urban lifestyle. They want the charm and convenience of being downtown, and at the same time they want the modern lifestyle. That’s really what the Brooklyn Arts District represents, is the opportunity to see some interesting projects.”
 
Sweyer said he expects the first two-pack of townhomes to be complete in early spring, with 10 planned total.
 
Intracoastal Realty developed a townhome community off Wrightsville Avenue called Spartina. Additional townhomes are planned on the road near Wrightsville Beach in a mixed-use development called Airlie at Wrightsville Sound by State Street Companies.
 
“There have been many new townhome projects built in our area in the last few years, which has ignited additional interest by consumers and developers. Most of them have been hugely successful and have sold most of their inventory. They attract buyers in many different price points,” said Trey Wallace, president of Wilmington-based Intracoastal Realty, in an email Nov. 30. “Muirfield Townes at Echo Farms and the Forks at Barclay, for example, are modestly priced at the high-200s to high-300s. Spartina is a luxury townhome development that was priced in the 400K-550K range that broke new barriers for townhome prices in Wilmington without water features. Just this week, we had a presentation from Laurel Homes about their new Southern Gale Townhome community in RiverLights, priced in the mid-200s to low-300s. There are new ones popping up all the time.”
 
The townhome neighborhood is coming to RiverLights in 2018, and development officials say the product will expand the variety of home options in the major master-planned community on River Road in Wilmington.
 
When it’s complete, RiverLights is planned to have 2,290 homes.
 
“The addition of Southern Gale Townhomes opens up the River- Lights community to a wide range of buyers, from young professionals and families to retirees,” said Jim Henry, vice president of operations of Newland Communities, in a news release. “To foster an active lifestyle, these townhomes are located near the heart of our community to provide residents with close proximity to amenities, activities and community events.”
 
Southern Gale Townhomes will range from 1,455 to 1,782 square feet, ““specifically designed for the RiverLights coastal lifestyle,” the release said.
 
The release said that to accommodate a wide range of families, there will be three floor-plan options that include two-, three- and four-bedroom layouts: The Sloop, The Schooner and The Clipper.
 
In general, townhomes are always in demand and have been a particularly popular product in the Wilmington area, Wallace said.
 
“While they are owned by all kinds of demographics, they work particularly well for retirees, single people or small families and people who want to own a second home in our area. The biggest draw for these groups is the low-maintenance living that townhomes provide,” Wallace said.
 
That popularity extends to townhomes that are already in the Wilmington area, he said.
 
“There are many existing townhome communities in our area that are in constant demand. Lion’s Gate is a modestly priced product that is always in high demand because it is near Wrightsville Beach – great as a second home because of the low maintenance and walkability, and affordable by comparison to townhome products on the island,” Wallace said. “Carlton Place is behind UNCW and is in constant churn between investors who are renting them out and parents who are buying them for their children to stay in during their college years – again, great because of the low maintenance.”
 
There are numerous reasons why developers like them, he said.
 
“Developers are attracted to townhome products because you can often get higher density and save costs on construction. For example, there are 22 units at Spartina on 1.6 acres. Under the original R-15 zoning a developer may have gotten three to four houses on that piece, but because of Lumina Station and other transformational projects you are seeing in that area, it made more sense for the city to allow the developer to zone it for higher density, walkable-type urban living,” Wallace said. “Building these 10,000 to 15,000-squarefoot buildings with five to six units in them typically means lower construction costs and higher margins, while still being able to deliver a quality product.”
 
Although some of the new townhomes on the market or coming to the area are at price points that exclude many entry-level buyers, some under $200,000 still exist locally, Sweyer said.
 
“That’s a good investment for people,” he said. “I think the conventional wisdom was that townhomes were the riskier real estate play in terms of resale. I think what we’re seeing is that that’s not necessarily the case so much anymore.”
 
There’s also not a lot of land left in some parts of the Wilmington area, particularly in the city of Wilmington.
 
“Wilmington continues to be built out,” Sweyer said, “and for a lot of these infill projects, townhomes are the highest and best use.”

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