New town houses are coming to Old Decatur, bringing more residential activity to the Bank Street area.
Decatur native Steve Armistead and his Nashville partner Yogi Dougher, of Decatur Urban Ventures LLC, are planning a multiphase town-home development on the site of the former Walter Lewis building between Walnut and Vine streets. They will be just east of the Morgan County Archives and a former gas station that was most recently Bank Street Detailing.
Dougher said they plan to build 17 two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath town houses with rooftop decks in four buildings as part of the first two phases. They are considering listing the town houses at close to $280,000, he said.
They hope to get through the city approval process by the end of the first quarter of 2021 and begin construction this spring. The long-term plan is to build up to five phases, Dougher said
“We will make them nice and attractive to the younger crowd who don’t want to live 20 miles away from their work,” Dougher said.
Armistead, who wasn’t available for comment, lives in Nashville, but Dougher said his partner still remains connected with and loves his hometown. Steve Armistead and his brother, David, own Tennessee Valley Pecan Co. on Bank Street, and Steve has been wanting to help build up downtown Decatur for years.
Rick Paler, executive director of Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority, said Steve Armistead initially planned in 2018 to build an “urban cottage” home development just off Bank Street but slow pre-sales caused him to put those plans on permanent hold.
“Steve’s excitement about downtown created a lot of interest in Decatur from other Nashville developers,” Paler said.
John Seymour, president and CEO of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, said the switch by Dougher and Steve Armistead from single-family homes to town homes is not a negative.
“We need everything,” Seymour said. “We’re constantly getting calls from people looking for housing. I had a Realtor tell me she didn’t have any to sell. We need any kind of house at any price so people have choices.”
Dougher said the town-house development is a better fit for Decatur’s needs because it will provide housing for more people.
One of the city’s goals in recent years has been to attract upscale apartments, condominiums and town houses to Decatur for young professionals. Paler said the condominiums at 307 Second Avenue were the first attempt in 2016. They filled up quickly and there’s rarely an available unit, he said.
There are at least two other planned residential developments in the Bank Street area.
“We want to bring multi-family residential developments into downtown because more people living in this area creates demand for additional restaurants and retail businesses,” Paler said.
Recently elected to the City Council, 25-year-old Kyle Pike has been active among young-professional groups. He said young professionals don’t care whether the developments are apartments or town houses.
“I hear more about the need for nice apartments, but it’s really based on personal preference,” Pike said.
Paler said the Urban Ventures development “is unique” to the Bank Street area “and it will bring some much-needed (population) density to the business district.”
Dougher said he used to visit a friend in Decatur while in college and stay at what was once the Amberley Suites Hotel, which is now City Center Village apartments for seniors.
“I thought Decatur was a cool place then because it had so many assets,” Dougher said. “And now it’s still a fine place with so many possibilities. I love that there are so many people here who are on the same page and have the same goal of really improving the city.”
Dougher said the cooperative effort is particularly evident at City Hall and Decatur Utilities. It’s a kind of unity he said he doesn’t see in the much larger city of Nashville. He said Decatur is also much more affordable.
“Nashville has so many layers of bureaucracy and everybody is worried about their individual power,” Dougher said. “In Decatur, everybody understands they need to work together if the city is going to grow.”