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Project is a lofty idea overlooking the ballpark

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- No less than four housing projects are planned or proposed in a six-block area of greater downtown Charleston, north of Washington Street.

Only the most recent is close to becoming a reality, though, probably because it reuses an existing building -- the former Kyle Furniture warehouse on Smith Street.

Unlike the other three, you don't need special qualifications to live here. You don't have to be a senior citizen, meet low-income guidelines or join a special program for young professionals. All you need is money.

Prices start at about $230,000 for a two-bedroom condominium-style flat at what owners Bill Turner and Mark Miller have dubbed the ParkView Lofts, some of which overlook Appalachian Power Park.

You won't get to watch ballgames at the entry-level price, though. That investment will buy you a middle apartment in the three-to-a-floor layout the partners from Pison Development envision in each side of the warehouse.

"It's $270,000 for the front view," Turner said.

Those are minimum costs. Owners can upgrade from the basic level of interior finishes Pison's builders will provide. "It all depends on the build-out."

You can also choose to expand beyond the 1,500-square-foot basic two-bedroom by buying more than a third of a floor, Turner said.

"We have one person who wants one-half. Someone could have a whole floor." Here again, it all depends on how much someone wants to spend.

Turner and Miller bought the Kyle warehouse about a month ago, for $625,000. It came with a large parking lot, crucial for the project, they said. The Kyles had been using it until recently.

"They had used it for storage. It was never a showroom. This building historically was used for warehouse purposes," Turner said.

"We found some information [that] the building was constructed in the '20s. As far as we know, the first occupants were the Loewenstein family. After the Loewenstein family, it was National Furniture, and then National Furniture sold in to Kyle Furniture."

The Loewensteins were among the city's titans of commerce a century or more ago. They built a warehouse for their hardware business at the foot of the Carriage Trail, where they could offload goods from sternwheelers. On Capitol Street, you'll find their name on what's best known as the Ellen's Ice Cream building.

By coincidence, Turner and Miller turned the upper floors of that building -- the former Fife Street Apartments -- into upscale lofts. They're fully occupied, they said.

The Kyle warehouse is actually two buildings, side by side, each 40 feet wide and 120 feet deep. Oddly, the floors don't match up inside. There's a 2-foot difference, which required a series of ramps to move furniture around.

Except for the solid brick exterior walls, they're mainly made of wood -- wood floors, wood posts, wood joists.

The ceilings are high, 14 feet, with one exception. That would be the top floor on the easternmost building, where the owners plan a penthouse apartment. There, a sloping ceiling rises to the front, providing room for a small second story facing the ballpark.

"The building will have a common area on the roof -- garden, lounge chairs, a grill," Turner said. "The penthouse will have its own area. The penthouse will be in excess of 2,500 square feet, with its own rooftop deck."

Interest has been high since news of the project emerged a few weeks ago.

"We're working on pre-selling right now," he said. "In the next two weeks, we're going to start assigning units."

Work already has started at the warehouse. One old freight elevator was removed and previously covered windows have been punched out. Turner has said the first occupants could arrive by the end of the year.

To contact Pison Development, call 304-342-2766.

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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