Heard it Here

Wake Forest Students Cover Downtown Winston-Salem

Life in the Nissen Building

Eleven years ago few Winston-Salem residents could have predicted the transformations the run down Nissen Building would receive.

Today, the 4th Street building is a downtown landmark.

“It is a commodity for downtown,” said Assistant Property Manager Tara Gibson.

For residents “it’s like living in a mini Washington D.C. or New York City,” said Rodney Davis, tenant and concierge manager of the Nissen Building on living in downtown Winston-Salem today.

Just ten years ago, the Nissen Building was a derelict building with a dirty face. Few people lived downtown and after 5 p.m. the streets were empty.

“Think back to before the Nissen Building became apartments…there was only a few people living downtown, there was no Mellow Mushroom, no Camino Bakery, no Artisan, no A/perture, no Washington Perk, no Jimmy Johns, no Tate’s, no Tropical Smoothies, no King’s Crabshack…nothing,” said Nissen Building Property Manager Suzy Baxter.

Today, the building is fully rented with a waiting list and tenants ranging from those who moved here from out-of-town to university professors to graduate students and young professionals.

The renovations of the Nissen Building “was the resurgence necessary for bringing downtown to life,” said Davis.

The original Nissen Building was built in 1927 as an office building by William M. Nissen with the profits from the sale of his Nissen Wagon Works.

In 2002, Historic Restorations Inc.(HRI), a company from New Orleans, worked with the City of Winston Salem, the Winston-Salem Foundation and the Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission, to transform the Nissen Building into a high-end apartment building.

“HRI’s philosophy is to revitalize historic properties to bring life to an area that normally would not be active,” said Baxter.

Financing for the project, according to The Business Journal included a $3 million loan from the City of Winston-Salem, $3.5 Million from the Millennium Fund, $6.5 million from tax credits to the Bank of America and a $14.5 million mortgage from The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD).

“It was a slow lease-up at first because the local population never thought living downtown would be safe and the out-of-state residents were sold on the building, but there was not enough downtown. I arrived in January of 2006 to manage the Nissen Building Apartments and to lease the building. It has come a long way since then,” said Baxter.

The new building opened in August of 2005 with 145 one and two-bedroom apartments ranging in price from $805/month to $1920/month.

The perks of living downtown are that “you don’t have to get into a car to go anywhere. Your social life is right here,” said Davis about living in the Nissen Building for the past seven years. He added, “It is a historical building with its own allure; it’s amazed by history. It’s impressive to live here and it’s awesome living downtown.”

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