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Dilworth Walk

The Right Balance

Sold out...before it even went on the market

As with many new urban developments, Dilworth Walk had to balance being a modern housing and retail development while honoring the aesthetic look of a historic neighborhood. Dilworth, one of Charlotte’s oldest communities, consists mostly of single-family homes, and the challenge for GS&P’s design team was finding a solution pleasing to both the new residents and the existing neighborhood association review committee.

The client wanted the new design to blend in with the historical area. What kinds of challenges did you encounter at the start?

David “Woody” Jones: Three houses on the site had been demolished to make room for the new structure. There was also a mixed-use building close by that did not blend well with the existing environment and had not been successful, and neighbors were skeptical of the new plans. The area was very restricted in terms of what they would allow, so it was really up to us to find a way to make them happy. The dwelling had to fit into their neighborhood so everybody would be happy with it. It was a little bit of a challenge to do that.

What were some of the site issues you had to work through?

Woody: There were a number of problems we had to deal with. It was a very tight site, so to meet the client’s requirements, we maxed out every inch. There were also easement issues and power lines that were an eyesore, but, we couldn’t change them because it was the main power line. The building had covered parking on the grade level and some drainage issues. We even had to relocate a four- or six-foot diameter storm drain that was part of the sewer system that ran perpendicular through the property, so we were challenged just about every step.

After you’d developed a plan to address the challenges, what elements did you incorporate in your design to make it blend with the community?

Woody: Detail was the key, and we chose materials that would fit with other buildings. For instance, the brick looked like a residential brick. There were three residential levels plus a parking deck level. So, we placed brick walk-ups along the street to give it the appearance of an older neighborhood.

Ben Cohey: We also added a couple of water fountains on the front and side of the building to fit the look of the building to the surroundings.

Did community opinion change as the building progressed?

Woody: We didn’t have a whole lot of push back. We had some that weren’t going to budge either way, but people were fairly receptive from the start. Instead of building a really large structure, we kept it to scale, which was acceptable to the neighborhood.

Kristie Nicoloff: The area had a lot of 1920s and '30s bungalows, groves of trees, and sidewalks, and most of the area has been very well renovated. It’s one of the more sought after neighborhoods. It’s right outside the downtown area, but you feel like you’re in the suburbs with a lot of parks and sidewalks. We had great input from the realtors we were working with who were able to tell us what sells and what people look for in this area. We took all our cues from them and incorporated their input into the interior and exterior to make sure that we could blend with the community.

Describe the site location.

Ben: The three houses they tore down had been vacant. They weren’t even suitable for an office building, so they were pretty unsightly. There is a one-way street on one side and a major thoroughfare on the other side.

Kristie: The road splits, and where it splits to a one-way street, the project is right in the middle of it. It’s a pretty neat little piece of land that everybody passes.

Ben: Some of the buildings are set back, because of the green space across the whole front of our building.

Kristie: We were just going in to restore some beauty that had been lost through age and neglect, and now it’s become a nice focal point for that area considering there are a couple of other buildings around there that had been torn down and left as parking lots.

What were some of the design features of the units that enabled you to blend the new with an older established area?

Kristie: We kept everything on the neutral side and took a lot of cues from the realtors who had suggestions and ideas of what they wanted included in the mortgage packages. We created a basic unit, and then upgrades. Essentially, the units were neutral with good classic finishes. They have porcelain tubs, sinks, tile, and hardwoods. In fact, the standard package was so nice the majority of buyers didn’t feel the need to purchase upgrades, which was a big value point. We also used a lot of the materials the realtors requested since they know what sells and what’s hot. Then, we worked with the local distributors to find the best price on a lot of these different materials to put together a superior package.

What part of this project is the most gratifying to you?

Ben: We are very proud of the fact that one of the buildings pre-sold out in about three days before it even went on the market. We got a huge reaction from the investors. The project was a financial success.

Woody: The team really pulled this one together. When the market started going south, we definitely served the client. As a result, they’ve come back to us with a medical office building and a full retail center that has been very successful and has had probably 70% leased out.

Kristie: It was a great feeling to know that it was such so well received in the community and sold out so quickly. Dilworth was one of the first true condo projects out of our office, and for this project to be so successful is especially gratifying.

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Project Info

  • Client: RED Partners
  • Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
  • Market: Corporate + Urban Design
  • Services: Architecture, Interior Design
  • Team:
    • D. Scott Wilson, RA, APA Principal-in-charge, Project Manager
    • Kristie Nicoloff, IIDA Project Professional
    • David "Woody" Gregory Jones, AIA, LEED AP Project Professional
    • Benjamin S. Cohey Project Coordinator
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