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Moving downtown Developers say demand for urban living is still strong

Developer Faisal Khan bought an old hotel for $1.3 million and has converted it into 90 apartments. by Jenny Boone


o more long commutes to work, mowing the lawn and driving to bars and restaurants for nighttime entertainment. Matt Woods’ favorite restaurants are steps away. For Woods, an assistant principal at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Roanoke, home is a historic, former downtown hotel that has been converted into one-and two bedroom apartments. Convenience was the reason Woods set out last summer to live in a growing urban neighborhood, and he hasn’t been disappointed. “It’s just really nice. Everything’s convenient, everything’s around me,” says, Woods, a 25-year-old Frank-


MARCH 2015

lin County native. His fifth-floor apartment provides the amenities of an urban lifestyle, with an open-concept kitchen, stainless steel appliances and a bar area. There’s a fitness center in the basement. Woods lives at the Ponce de Leon, a former Campbell Avenue hotel and office building that now has 90 apartments. It joins a host of historic downtown structures that have been renovated for living space in the past 12 years, reflecting a steady transformation of life in downtown Roanoke. The number of downtown apartments and condominiums rose 225 percent in six years, from

301 in 2008 to 980 last year, according to Downtown Roanoke Inc., a nonprofit downtown development and advocacy organization. It projects that downtown living spaces will increase to 1,151 in 2015. Real estate developers, like Faisal Khan, who led the Ponce de Leon revival, are banking on this growth and continued demand, mostly from young professionals who want to live within walking distance of shops, restaurants, art galleries and other entertainment. The swell of downtown residents has been fueled in part by students and employees of nearby healthcare entities, such the Virginia Photos by Sam Dean

Profile for Virginia Business

Roanoke Business- March 2015  

Roanoke Business- March 2015  

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