Old Star Building in Winchester to house apartments, offices
By Ryan Cornell
WINCHESTER -- A set of buildings in Downtown Winchester dating to 1840 that served as the home of The Winchester Star for 35 years were on display Friday to showcase its newly remodeled offices and apartments.
OakCrest Companies, a Winchester-based real estate firm that has remodeled other historic properties such as the Lewis Jones Knitting Mill and the Lovett Building, took on the project last October and completed it earlier this month.
A press packet obtained at the open house reveals the renovation cost to be about $1.25 million and the tax credits about $500,000.
Located at 29-31 and 33-35 East Boscawen St., the Old Star Building's nine apartments range from 561 to 1,206 square feet and lease for $900 to $950 per month. The apartments consist of three two-bedroom and six one-bedroom apartments. Tenants will begin moving into the six already leased apartments soon.
The two offices are about 1,200 square feet each. They will be inhabited by Don Crigler of DFC Architects, Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell, Economic Development Director Jim Deskins and a welcome center for the City of Winchester.
Deskins said the most rewarding part of the process has been realizing that people are happy living downtown.
"Because where people want to be is where they will be and where they are is where businesses are," he said. "And as we continue to change and move in different living patterns, I think you're going to see a tremendous renaissance in downtown living. I think this is just the beginning."
During the renovation, contractors uncovered a cannonball and bullets from the Civil War, a small inkwell, a variety of baseball cards and an old newspaper from the 1940s embedded in the drywall.
OakCrest CEO Jim Vickers said the rich history of the building makes it special.
"The impact that the Byrd family had on this building, they operated here for about 40 years with The Winchester Star," he said. "And it was not only just knowing that Senator Byrd was on the second floor writing articles about World War II, but just his presence in this building made it even more worthwhile for OakCrest to undertake it."
John Barker, vice president of OakCrest Builders, said the location of the apartments makes it attractive to tenants.
"It's not right on the mall, so you don't have the noise in the evening," he said. "But it's close enough, a minute and a half away by foot."
OakCrest is currently evaluating the property of the old jail at 317 South Cameron St.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org