Native son Steve Armistead loves the energy of downtown Decatur so much that he’s making a residential investment on Bank Street Northeast.
In about five months, the Nashville developer and partner Shannon Pollard plan to begin construction on eight “urban cottages” at Bank Street Station. He has the property owned by Blake and Faye Temple under contract for purchase.
The single-family subdivision development will feature two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,200-square-foot homes with a wraparound porch and small lots on the 1-acre property at a tentative listing price of $240,000.
Armistead’s company, Armistead, Arnold, Pollard Real Estate Services, specializes in urban redevelopment. The architect is Nick Dryden of DAAD Architects in Nashville.
Most of the company’s projects have been in the Nashville area, but Armistead thinks the timing for investment in downtown Decatur is right because of the many new or recently completed projects.
Armistead said projects such as the Cook Museum of Natural Science, which is under construction, the L&N Depot, Daikin Amphitheatre and the Alabama Center for the Arts are “signals of a major resurgence. The platform here in Decatur has been built.”
Armistead, a 1974 Decatur High graduate, said he would not have considered the project if the city had not renovated the 111-year-old train depot.
The Decatur Police Department is using 4,000 square feet of the 6,000-square-foot depot at Railroad and Vine streets. A train museum is under construction in the building’s remaining 2,000 square feet.
“This is a huge effort and symbolic of what’s going on downtown,” said Armistead, whose brother David owns Tennessee Valley Pecan Co. on Bank Street.
Rick Paler, executive director of the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority, said residential developments such as Bank Street Station and the Barron brothers’ loft apartments on Second Avenue are key components to the next phase of the authority’s strategic plan. The first phase was the arts center.
“City center residential is critical,” Paler said. “Every place we visited said that if you get the residential development downtown, the rest will follow. We have two projects that will take us where we want to go, but they’re entirely unique developments.”
Paler said the Armistead project is the first major new construction in many years on Bank Street.
Paler, who was a developer before joining the authority, said timing is key in economic development because developers want to grab the available properties at the start of an area’s renewal before their land value jumps.
Armistead said he and Paler discussed building multi-family apartments, but that would have been a “high-risk proposition.” He believes the urban homes concept is a compromise that fits well on this half-acre site on the southwest corner of Bank and Cherry streets.
Armistead said he knows there’s a risk of being first in, but he believes he will be successful. He said he expects the urban homes will be popular among older adults and young professionals. He suggested a local industry might want to purchase a home as a temporary place for visiting employees.
“This is an alternative lifestyle,” Armistead said. “It’s a smaller home in an urban setting where people can walk to the stores, coffee house and the restaurants.”
If he can find eight buyers for the urban homes, Armistead said he may revisit the multi-family apartments at another downtown location.
Paler said there are plenty of empty lots available for development in downtown.
“Downtown Decatur is just now being rediscovered,” Armistead said. “Once we start this — if it’s successful and I think it will be — we’ll be doing more.”