“It’s just like being at home to me”: Tenants discuss what it’s like moving into downtown Albemarle apartments
Published 4:21 pm Monday, February 27, 2023
In the 1960s, Lovell Mauldin spent several years as a desk clerk at the Albemarle Hotel, where she registered guests as they came in.
She has fond memories of her time at the hotel, including her interactions with the elevator operator, a nice man who stocked the Coca-Cola machine each week and receiving a cup of coffee each morning from a girl who worked in the restaurant.
“I had hardly put my purse down and she had brought me my coffee, just like I liked it,” Mauldin said.
Now, after more than 60 years, Mauldin, 80, is back at the nearly 100-year-old property, though it is no longer the Albemarle Hotel and she is no longer an employee. The building has been given new life as The Residences at the Albemarle Hotel, which features 29 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, ranging from 500 to 1,600 square feet.
Mauldin was the first person to move into the property at the beginning of the month. There are 10 tenants who have signed leases, though not all of them have moved in yet, according to Elaine Hollins, who is the property manager along with her husband Russ, broker/owner of CENTURY 21 Russ Hollins Realtors.
“I’m right where I need to be,” Mauldin said, noting she previously lived for about a decade in a duplex apartment near the hospital. “It’s just like being at home to me.”
She has an impressive view as several large historically restored windows look out onto North 2nd Street. Mauldin said she looks forward to watching the Albemarle Christmas Parade in December from the comfy (and warm) confines of her living room.
“I do have several people that said: ‘You’re moving where? In the hotel? You’re movin’ on up with ‘The Jeffersons,’ ” she recalled. “And I said, ‘Yep, that’s what I’ve done.’ ”
Her apartment costs $1,300 a month, which includes utilities such as electricity, water, sewer, heating and air-conditioning. Rent for the units begins at around $1,100 and goes up to $2,595, Elaine said, noting the average is around $1,300-$1,400.
Another resident who recently moved in was Miller Chambers, who previously lived at the 1st on Main Luxury Apartments. He appreciates the character of the building and the view from his unit, where he can see First Baptist Church.
“I love the old feel to it,” he said, noting his unit is less than a mile from his job at Hartsell Funeral Home.
Similar to Mauldin, Chambers, 27, is also looking forward to having a bird’s-eye view of holiday celebrations.
“Everybody has been asking me, they want to come over and watch the parade,” he said. “So that’s kind of cool.”
Mauldin’s daughter Melody Eudy sees her mother’s move-in as a full-circle moment.
“It kind of brings her back to where she once was, where it all started,” she said.
Jerry and Libby Barbee, both in their 70s, signed a lease for a unit next to Mauldin. Although they have not moved in yet, they are excited about relocating from their home on Montgomery Avenue, where they lived for more than 20 years.
“It’s not a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Libby said about the couple’s desire to downsize. “We’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years, especially as we get older.”
The Hollinses are excited for the tenants as they move into the building, which has amenities such as key-less entry, a fitness room and bike room, high-speed internet and a restaurant, Christine’s Wood Fire, which will open later this year.
Tenants have signed onto units on each level of the apartment complex, from the basement to the fourth floor, Elaine said, noting five of the 10 people have units on the second floor.
“In all the stuff that goes on in towns, where people tear down buildings to build something else, it is nice to see this (former hotel) revitalized,” Russ Hollins said.
First built in 1923, the Albemarle Hotel boasted 60 rooms. The first floor featured a ballroom, a dining room and a spacious lobby. During the hotel’s prime, it was one of the key social gathering places for people in the community. It had been vacant for several decades.
The renovation of the property, which was completed late last year, cost more than $8 million through a combination of private investments and historic tax credit investors, according to developer Jordan Jones.
Stokes Construction renovated the building and hired several local subcontractors in the community.
“I am humbled to have had the opportunity to lead the renovation of the historic Albemarle Hotel as we celebrate the building’s 100th anniversary,” Jones told the paper, noting in a previous interview that the time spent refurbishing the property had been a “labor of love.”
As news about the new apartment complex and unit availability has spread, the Hollinses have been busy talking with prospective tenants.
“We’ve got lots of pictures online and we’re getting a lot more calls,” Russ Hollins said, noting the number of people interested has vastly increased over the past few weeks.
None of the current tenants are Pfeiffer University students studying at the college’s Center for Health Sciences building in downtown Albemarle, but that could soon change as several have expressed interest, Elaine said.
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