Lynchburg’s newest lofts
With a greater interest in downtown revitalization, historic preservation and simple living, the demand for loft living is on the rise. Lofts establish a sense of community and their locations provide convenience to work (whether you work in the city or need to simply hop on 501), as well as being within walking distance from shopping, dining out and recreation.
While there are more than 10 loft-style properties already downtown, prospective residents have even more options for loft living with the addition of four new properties. Many of these historic properties come equipped with similar amenities, such as in-unit washers and dryers, stainless steel appliances, parking and updated heating and air systems, yet each suggests its own story and sense of style.
Located on 12th Street, Factory 88 provides 23 one-bedroom apartments in what used to be the Ford & Winfree Tobacco Factory. The design highlights the property’s history using sliding barn-style reclaimed doors, kitchen islands with pallet fronts, and exposed bricks, beams, and pipes. A walking bridge leads to a parking lot, yet the on-site bike storage encourages renters to grab their bikes and explore the neighborhood. A favorite resident feature is the community deck that promotes socializing.
The location is ideal for someone who wants to be in the heart of it all, only requires one bedroom, and doesn’t mind a small living area as units are under 700 square feet.
Piedmont Flour Mill
The Piedmont Flour Mill’s location on Jefferson Street grants residents with easy access to recreation and restaurants while maintaining a sense of peace and quiet. It wasn’t always so peaceful, however: “locals brought their grain here to grind for flour and to trade along the James River—the flour made here actually fed the Confederate soldiers!” said leasing agent Trish Lightner. (The flour mill discontinued its operations in 1987.) Found objects are in full display from the framed flour sack in the lobby to the grinders, sifters and other artifacts on display throughout the interior. The fifth-floor units contain spiraled staircases and top-of-the-world views.
Unique to this property are the one-bedroom units that feature original wooden walls, which creates a log cabin feeling right in the middle of Lynchburg. These were the old silos: “in place of windows, they had these wooden slats so the grain could breathe and stay fresh and not mold,” Lightner explained. “You need to really like a log cabin effect to enjoy the aesthetic in these rooms.” The owners expect to convert a set of silos in back into apartments soon. Lightner believes that this is “going to put Lynchburg on the map since they’re going to create the units in a way that’s never been done before.”
With one- and two-bedrooms units ranging from $700 to $2,000, the property opened in the fall of 2016. More than half of the units leased within the first two months; tenants range from med school students to mature adults.
The original building was constructed in 1880, but the Wills-Camp Lofts are the newest addition to Lynchburg loft living. Located between Bowen Jewelry and Baby Bees at 819 Main Street, the building offers five exclusive lofts in addition to commercial space.
“We really wanted something different than what was already available,” explains owner James LaPrade. After completing in-depth research, designer Dale Davis developed the idea of five thematic rentals. From a staircase leading to a study in the Professor’s loft to the original mercantile shelves that serve as an entertainment center, Davis chose specific design details (as well as appropriate lighting features and hardware) for each individual unit. Davis and LaPrade also concluded that they wanted the Wills-Camp lofts to offer large, walk-in closets and as much natural light as possible.
In the past, the building housed commercial businesses, primarily of the retail variety: generations of merchants sold stoves, tin ware, equine equipment, shoes and clothing here at one point or another. In keeping with the building’s history, LaPrade is building a mock storefront complete with an original cash register and other artifacts he found in the building. He also elected to fashion a wet bar from the old elevator shaft in the Executive’s loft.
Amenities include water, sewer, and an assigned parking space. A one-bedroom, one-bath unit starts at $950 with the executive loft (featuring its own private patio) going up to $2,500. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for a retired couple who wants to downsize,” said LaPrade.
On the corner of Fifth and Court streets, loft lovers will find Gish Flats, where prospective tenants choose between living in a renovated industrial space or a brand new building.
The historical building served as the R.E. Gish Tobacco Factory in 1883, which produced tobacco snuff. In 1920, it became Lynchburg Hosiery Mill #2, which held the distinction of having the first contract with the U.S. military and fashioned socks for the Army, Navy and Marine corps. Today, old knitting machines for hosiery display prominently in the large lobby.
The 66 units opened in the fall of 2016 with price points starting at $900. The rent payment includes free cable, internet, parking, trash, water and sewer services. Gish Flats presents a plethora of amenities to its residents, including complimentary shared bicycles, charcoal grills, and patio tables with sunny yellow umbrellas in the courtyard. There’s also a kitchenette adjacent to the common area to make prepping for outdoor entertaining a snap and an on-site fitness center. Units come with a coat closet and a pantry as well as a separate laundry closet; all units come with built-in Bluetooth audio systems and in-wall speakers. “This is all a very thoughtful use of space,” says Dee Beck, leasing agent for the property.
The panoramic views from the rooftop patio are unbeatable: look one way to see a city line and church steeples and simply turn your head to gaze upon the James.
A vibrant arts and cultural scene juxtaposed against a rushing river and blue mountain ridges, all with a sense of history continuing yet renewing—that’s not just the view from the rooftop, that’s life in downtown Lynchburg.
By Charlotte Farley