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Demand Outpaces Availability in downtown Wilmington Condo Market

If you'd like to get a feel from just how hot the downtown Wilmington condo market it, just ask David Spetrino Jr. and Todd J. Toconis. Spetrino is a partner in Plantation, Inc. a contracting firm he established in 1997 with partner, Dave Nathans.

One of Plantation’s major undertakings is The Promenade, a two acre parcel of residential, retail and commercial space, covering an entire city block bordered by N. Third St., N. Fourth St., Hanover St. and Brunswick St. Eventually the tract will include 14 buildings featuring stores, offices, residential units and restaurants, a 350-space parking facility and a courtyard that runs right through the middle. Laurel Oak, just completed in May of 2003, consists of 15 residential units made up of two bedroom flats and urban-style lofts.

Toconis, the owner of Town & Country Real Estate Inc. sells the condominiums faster than Spetrino can get them out of the ground. “I think people are willing to pay more in the downtown area for the location, but also for the artistic appeal of an attractive building,” says Spetrino. “It’s like owning a great piece of furniture… who cares what it costs.”

Toconis points to an incident during the Spring 2003 Parade of Homes where a man and wife were arguing over who used to occupy the Laurel Oaks building. “Laurel Oaks was built on a vacant lot in downtown Wilmington where there was little more than junk and trash,” says Toconis.

“What a great compliment it is when people think that you’ve gone to such a painstaking level of detail to make it look old when keeping the air conditioning and all the modern amenities in place,” continues Spetrino. “The exposed brick walls, the wide plank hardwood floors, the high ceilings…that was all standard, none of it was optional. Even the mosaic tile in the bathroom was a standard feature.”

Plantation’s latest condo project, the Brooklyn House, is located in the Brooklyn Arts District in downtown Wilmington. It is the third building to be constructed in The Promenade.

Amenities include a clock tower, a pedestrian courtyard, and a fountain complementing the planned brick and stone building of the Promenade that will house a mix of restaurants, stores and offices. “My sell-out period for the Brooklyn House was April of 2005,” comments Spetrino. “So a year from now I was expecting to sell out. The month of Sept. through November 17, 2003, we sold 21 of 26 units.”

Toconis notes that most of the buyers for the downtown condo units are retirees looking to get away from the upkeep of a larger home. “They want to be in the middle of the action, and there’s always something happening in downtown Wilmington.”

In addition to new construction, Plantation recently completed the restoration of 116 N. Front St. The façade of the building was originally castiron and glass, the first of its type in the port city.

The current restoration project yielded upper apartment floors with exposed brick walls, original hardwood tongue-and-groove pine flooring, high ceilings, fantastic views of the water and the USS Battleship North Carolina across the river.




Other Sites of Interest: Media ServicesiLoveIOP.comiLoveFollyBeach.comSouthCarolinaHomes.net