MEBANE — A second developer received approval this week to proceed with plans to construct apartment homes.
Keystone at Mebane Oaks, part of Keystone Homes of Greensboro, applied for rezoning and a special-use permit to develop the multifamily complex.
The Mebane City Council also approved plans for renovating the White Furniture factory downtown on Monday night.
Scott Wallace, president of Keystone Homes, said his and Mark Michael’s business was founded in the Triad more than 20 years ago and has developed luxury apartments in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, as well as townhouses and other single-family-home neighborhoods.
According to the company’s website, several of its communities are in Burlington, Graham and Gibsonville.
“We want to be the best place in Mebane,” Wallace said. “We think we’re in one of the best locations.”
That location is property along Interstate 40/85 at the dead end of Cameron Lane, off Mebane Oaks Road.
Along with 330 apartments, Keystone says, the complex will include a residents’ club, pool, fitness room, exercise studio, game room and kids area, along with a playground, pet park and walking trails. One- and two-car garages will be located throughout the property, which will be divided by a thoroughfare that Keystone will build, in line with a proposed larger road between Mebane Oaks road and N.C. 119.
“The boulevard must be attractive and inviting as it’s in a highly visible area of Mebane,” Wallace said.
COUNCILMAN Tim Bradley asked whether the amenities would be added later after construction on the apartments begins.
Wallace said the apartment complex’s amenities were one of its main “selling points” and would be built during the first stage of construction. He said the company would determine when the second phase of construction on the rest of the apartments across the street would begin based on how fast the first units lease.
The thoroughfare between the two sides of the complex will include a crosswalk for residents to walk back and forth.
Keystone Homes manages its own apartments, Wallace said.
“Just because we’re do-it-yourself kind of guys,” he said.
A staff of five to six people will be dedicated to the company’s Mebane apartments.
Wallace said a market study wasn’t conducted, but they feel positive about the development based on a high occupancy rating in other Mebane apartments.
“We’re two good ol’ country boys who do a lot of gut hunching,” Wallace said of Michael and himself. “We feel this community will have residents as fast as we can build it. You guys have done a great job providing jobs. I’m not going to get into the incentives debate, but Mebane’s special.”
He described the culture of Mebane as being “high class.”
“And that’s what we like,” Wallace said. “Life’s too short to do something other than high class.”
GLENN PATTERSON, of Burlington, was hired by Keystone to conduct an appraisal.
Bradley asked Patterson whether the development would negatively affect any of the complex’s surrounding properties.
“There’s no empirical data to show if it will have a positive or negative impact on surrounding properties,” Patterson said.
Bradley expressed concern over the apartments’ possibly being in the middle of a future commercial development area.
“Wouldn’t it be a detriment to another Tanger, large box or series of smaller businesses that might want interstate frontage?” Bradley asked.
Tanger Outlets is a prominent shopping center facing the interstate.
Patterson and a couple members of the council replied that it’s becoming more of a trend in more recently developed areas to mix retail and residential areas to create walkable communities.
“This property has been for sale for many, many years at a high price,” Patterson said. “The walking traffic of having an apartment complex to add potential workers to the area is what a commercial developer looks for. There’s a lot of movement now toward walking communities or biking communities or non-heavy transportation communities.”
Wallace added he believes that Keystone developing the apartments would serve as a “tipping point for other possible economic impacts in this immediate area.”
He also indicated that requiring high monthly rates from tenants would result in more jobs in Mebane.
“The high rents we’re going to get are going to demand high salaries,” Wallace said. “It’s going to help this area.”
Currently, the property, valued around $1 million, generates $5,350 in taxes for Mebane. The expected property tax value after construction is $23.1 million, which would generate $113,000 a year in taxes and an additional $114,000 in annual water and sewer fees. Keystone also will have to pay $759,000 with the building permits in water and sewer connection fees.