Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The article about loft living below appeared Sunday in the Charleston Gazette. It notes Generation Charleston's Loft Walk in June, which attracted more than 100 people. This project would allow more people an opportunity to live downtown.

Restaurateur Sadorra tries his hand at downtown living

By Sarah K. Winn
Staff writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston restaurateur Virgil Sadorra is at it again, but this time it's something completely different - loft-style living in downtown Charleston.

He's made a brochure for his planned Rose City Lofts, and now he just needs some tenants - six of them.

"You have to have a certain personality to live downtown," he said. "People have said, 'You won't sell it.' I said, 'Let me try at least.'"

In 2006, Sadorra purchased the old Rose City Press building on Virginia Street. He had immediate plans to reopen his Delish restaurant, which had burned to the ground in March 2006.

"The fire gave me a new perspective on the industry," he said in June 2006. "Persistence is the key in entrepreneurism."

He still believes that two years later.

"From that fire, I think I found balance," he said last week. "It changed the perspective on how I looked at things."

Since 2006, he has been busy. He's opened Cilantro's in the old Delish spot on McFarland Street, Delish Express on Washington Street East and is revamping the Vandalia Lounge on Hale Street.
Downtown living isn't a new concept for Charleston. Other loft projects - individual units on Hale Street and 816 on the Boulevard - have happened. Others - Marketplace Lofts on Court Street and residences at KB&T Renaissance Tower on Capitol Street - haven't really.

Why is Sadorra's project different? First is the price point, he said. A move-in-ready, 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath loft will start at about $200,000, he said.

His price is based on what people are asking for, he said. He's targeting the young professional crowd, who, in some cases, are already paying $600 to $800 a month for apartment rents, he said.

A $200,000 mortgage wouldn't cost that much more - in the $1,000 to $1,200 range, he said.
"And you own it," he said.

There will be two units each on the second, third and fourth floors of the building, he said. The units will have either a river or city view, he said.

His plans call for movable walls so residents can change the layout if they choose, he said.

There will be on-site parking and other amenities, including a rooftop pavilion and workout room. Also in the plans are a tenant grocery store and room service, he said.

The grocery store will feature carryout pastas and Sadorra's signature sauces once featured at the McFarland Street Delish.

That's really why he wants the loft project to happen.

"It's a steppingstone to getting the Delish restaurant back," he said.

Why attempt a downtown loft space when other projects have failed?

Sadorra admits that downtown living isn't for everyone. With a wife and two small children it doesn't make sense for his family anymore.

But the want is there, he said.

He points out that the recent downtown loft walks by the Charleston Area Alliance's Generation Charleston, a young professional's organization, have had 100 attendees.

For now, Sadorra is finishing up details with a contractor and architect. He doesn't have a start date on the project, but he wants it done sooner rather than later.

"The building, it gets you the views and the price," he said. "I want to find that market and that person to move in."

To learn more, call (304) 343-1007.


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