Developers launch project at former Presbyterian Home site

May. 25, 2013 @ 03:00 PM

Two years after acquiring a former retirement home in northeast High Point, the property owners are making use of the site as a rental community while holding out hope to pursue more ambitious plans at the location in the future.
Blue Ridge Cos. of High Point has launched “Legacy at the Point” at the former Presbyterian Home of High Point at Greensboro and Deep River roads.
They have renovated the 88 residential units on the site behind the high-rise building at the front of the property and are offering them for rent. Cottages, duplexes and townhomes — ranging in size from one bedroom/one bath to three bedroom/two bath — are available for monthly rents from $675 to $1,000. The rent includes all utilities.
Blue Ridge Cos. Executive Vice President Susan Passmore said the project caters to older residents, and 80 percent of the units must be occupied by at least one person more than 55 years old.
“We’ve had a great response,” Passmore said. “I think one of the main selling points is that it’s all-inclusive, and folks on fixed incomes love the fact that their housing costs are fixed.”
Presbyterian Home operated at the location from 1952 to 2005, when its approximately 300 residents moved to River Landing at Sandy Ridge in Colfax.
Blue Ridge Cos. CEO David Couch and business partner David Griffin Jr. of D.H. Griffin Cos. in Greensboro bought the 18-acre site for $1.4 million in April 2011.
Couch said the units were in good shape when they bought them, and crews have done painting and roofing repairs, as well as landscaping and upgrades to the street system on the property.
“It’s been mainly just cosmetic spruce-ups,” he said.
Couch said his goal continues to be to convert some of the properties into single-family homes for sale.
City zoning rules won’t allow this because the street system and the utilities that serve the units were not built to city standards. City Development Services Administrator Bob Robbins said the streets within the property are more like driveways that don’t have established rights of way. The water and sewer system was privately built and has never been maintained by the city.
Officials viewed renting the property as an established use and allowed the owners to do this as long as they, and not the city, maintain the infrastructure, Robbins said.
Couch said it would be “unbelievably expensive” to demolish the units and rebuild houses with new streets that would allow for sale instead of rental. 
He said he believes city officials are receptive to changing High Point’s ordinance, parts of which he termed outdated.
“The people renting from us could purchase that real estate a whole lot cheaper than renting it from us,” he said. “I think what they’re learning is, we need to figure a way to allow that to happen.”
Couch said the infrastructure was well-maintained by the Presbyterian Home and is in good shape. He’s hopeful that city officials will find it acceptable and come up with a text amendment or new section to the ordinance that will enable him to subdivide the site.
“We look to be part of that process to come up with some innovative solutions to how real estate like this can be revived, and I think that breeds investment from the business community. And that breathes life into High Point,” he said.
Couch said he and Griffin still plan to demolish the front building to make way for commercial development, but that he doesn’t know when that will happen. 
Such a move would require a rezoning from the city and also is complicated by the existence of a cell phone tower on the building, which developers are under agreement to relocate if the structure is demolished.
“We still intend to demolish the building there and develop something that benefits the surrounding community,” Couch said, mentioning retail as a possible new use.