City News

Office of the Mayor - March 16, 2017

Former GMAC Building and Adjacent Site to be Repurposed into an Office/Entrepreneurial Center and Residential/Retail Project

Mayor Allen Joines announced today that local business leader Don Flow and Charlotte-based developer Grubb Properties will repurpose the former GMAC Tower building and an adjacent site on Fourth Street into an entrepreneurial center and residential/retail project that will add street-level retail space and 240 apartments downtown.

GMAC BuildingFlow will acquire the Tower building, where he plans to relocate all Flow Companies corporate services that are currently housed in locations throughout North Carolina and Virginia. The primary focus of the remaining floors of the building will be on attracting start-up and early stage growth companies by offering extremely affordable space. Multiple early stage companies have already committed to locating in the tower. 

In addition, Flow will provide 35,000 square feet of space in the Tower to create an accelerator, Winston Starts, which will be a 501c non-profit organization focused on starting and growing companies in Winston-Salem. This space will be provided at no charge to the companies that go through Winston Starts. In particular, Winston Starts will focus on providing opportunities for students at local universities and colleges to create companies.

President Nathan Hatch of Wake Forest University said, “Wake Forest University is very excited about the opportunity to participate with Don Flow in making Winston-Salem an entrepreneurial center. With the support of mentors and investors from the community and the Wake Forest network, we envision that many of our very entrepreneurial students will work on the start-up ventures at Winston Starts and continue to scale them up after graduation.”

An estimated capital investment of up to $10 million will be made to renovate the Tower for the new tenants. Approximately 225 new jobs will be created in this building during this first phase of development.

“Our goal is for this building in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem to be one of the most attractive entrepreneurial centers on the East Coast,” Flow said.

In a second project, Grubb Properties will develop a $48 million residential and retail project on the site just south of the Tower, including the surface parking lot. The project will include 240 residential units and storefronts along Fourth Street. Grubb Properties has committed to making 30 percent of the units workforce housing.

The residential project will involve the removal of an existing six-story building. The city of Winston-Salem is being asked to assist with the cost of removing the building by returning 75 percent of the annual new taxes paid on the residential project for a period of 10 years, Joines said. The city is not assisting with the GMAC Tower portion of the project.

“This exciting project preserves the Tower building and creates additional residential and commercial space downtown,” Joines said. “The new taxes that will be paid to the city more than cover the city’s investment in the project. In fact, the city will net approximately $550,000 in new taxes during a 10-year period.”

Council Member Derwin Montgomery, a strong proponent of making residential units more affordable in the downtown area, said, “I am very pleased that the developer has committed to 30 percent of the units being workplace housing. This is above our minimum of 10 percent and it sets a very strong example for other developers to follow.”

Council Member Jeff MacIntosh, in whose ward the project is located, said that he is glad the project includes commercial space along Fourth Street.  “It is important that our street fronts be active and inviting all along Fourth Street and this project will fill in a gap in this area,” he said.

Clay Grubb, the president of Grubb Properties, said, “Grubb Properties is pleased to be able to add additional development to downtown Winston-Salem and are particularly pleased to be able to offer 30 percent of the residential units as workforce housing.”  

This will be Grubb Properties’ third multifamily property in Winston-Salem. A majority of apartments at Grubb Properties’ Link Apartments Brookstown, located near the BB&T Ballpark, offer rents affordable to those with incomes between 80% and 120% of the area’s average median income. Grubb Properties is also developing a new property in the Innovation Quarter with 340 apartments, approximately 5,000 square feet of retail space, and a parking deck with 850 spaces.

Work on the residential portion of the project is expected to begin within 12 months of the City Council’s approval of Grubb Properties’ financial assistance proposal. Work on the initial phase of the Tower building will begin immediately upon closing with occupancy beginning in the late summer of 2017. 

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