By Courtney Phillips
Since January, Jared Dement has climbed the 47 steps to reach his third floor loft home, picturesquely nestled in the trees that line Hay Street, above the Rainbow Room and Moonlight Communications. A physician’s assistant at Cape Fear Valley’s emergency department, Jared’s work hours are unpredictable and long, but the spacious renovated loft, conveniently located between Pierro’s Italian Bistro and Rude Awakenings coffee shop, is a perfect fit for Jared’s fast-paced lifestyle.
With local eateries steps away, a well-appointed and updated kitchen garners minimal attention from Jared, but serves as an impressive focal point when entering the open floor plan. A bank of cherry cabinets accent lustrous black granite countertops, which extend along the wall and run parallel to a lengthy island which houses extra storage and a double sink. Unobtrusively, original artwork by Jared is perched on the countertop, unhung. “Don’t photograph this,” Jared laughed, as he grabbed the rendition of a coffee cup on canvas. Jared doesn’t just eat and study downtown, he takes art classes, too.
Décor is sparse, as one might imagine for a home of less than a year, but Jared has made one purchase for the living area, which is located in the foremost space of the home: a handmade whisky barrel American flag by Heritage Flag Company in Southern Pines. The muted colors of the flag compliment the neutral color palate of ivory walls, cream drapes and neutral sofa.
Pat Wright and Jan Johnson, the building’s owners, completed an extensive renovation in 1999 to save it from demolition. Regarding the unique floor plan, Pat said, “We wanted to preserve the building in a way that shows its history, so that when someone hears it was originally a hotel, they can see it in the layout.”
Moving to the rear of the one-time hotel, closet space, utilities and a full bath are all to the right, hidden behind sturdy doors, original to the building. To the left is a recreational area that houses Jared’s bicycle and pool table. Jared’s office space is separated from the rec area by custom room dividers made from extra doors from the hotel and constructed by local businessman Kirk deViere, the loft’s first resident.
Reclaimed heart pine floors, which gleam the length of the loft, 12-foot ceilings, and expansive windows, make the space feel larger than its already ample square footage. Jared’s favorite feature of the home is the dimmable recessed lighting throughout the floor plan and track lighting in the kitchen, which lend a modern feel to the building constructed in 1914. Through the years, the building has been home to a wholesale grocery store, a billiard room, the Palace Hotel, the Rainbo Restaurant and the Rainbo Hotel.
To the rear of the loft is a spacious bedroom and towering fire escape for a quick getaway, but Jared isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, unless it’s on vacation. “I like living in Fayetteville. It’s patriotic and friendly and I like the proximity to the beach and mountains. If I want to fly somewhere, the airport is 10 minutes away.”
Brian Easley is a Fayetteville native. Fayetteville, Arkansas, that is. After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point and being stationed at Fort Bragg, Brian fell in love with this Fayetteville, as well.
The atmosphere, art, and culture situated in such a concentrated area drew him downtown and before purchasing his one bedroom, one bath condo at 300 Hay Street, he lived on Person Street, above the well-loved restaurant, Circa 1800.
After a teaching stint at West Point, Brian came back to Fayetteville and settled into 300 Hay, a group of brick condos that have occupied the corner of Hay Street and Ray Avenue since their construction in 2007. With a workout facility, assigned parking, tight security and double paned windows to minimize noise, the new condo afforded Brian creature comforts he had forgone in a historically protected building just a few blocks away.
A downtown enthusiast, Brian is on the board of the 300 Hay Homeowners Association and is an active member of the Downtown Alliance. “I’ve parked my car on a Friday after work and not moved it until Monday morning,” said Brian of the supreme location. “I can walk anywhere to eat, see a movie at the Cameo and walk all the way to Latitude 35 in Haymount to meet my friends. Of course, an Uber ride home is just a couple of dollars. I don’t have to concern myself with driving.”
Boasting two balconies, the condo overlooks the Arts Council to one side and the Transportation Museum to the other. “I’d have to say the covered balcony is my favorite feature of the condo in every month except April. The pollen is terrible,” laughed Brian, as he leaned over the side of the balcony.
In addition to the spacious balconies, the floorplan is open with plenty of natural light from extended windows. The living room features a tray ceiling, maximizing the feel of its square footage. The kitchen is exactly as would be expected for such a modern building, complete with stainless appliances, cabinetry that extends nearly to the ceiling and grey granite countertops.
With regard to décor, Brian laughed, “The living room is Pier 1. The bedroom is Restoration Hardware. I just go through catalogs and pick out what I like. I don’t know if you could call that a ‘style.’” However, a closer look reveals more personality than a catalog can offer. Local art adorns the walls. “The art is mostly stuff I’ve picked up at a bookstore down the street.” Concert posters, expertly framed and hung, add a level of sophistication that might otherwise scream “bachelor pad.” Brian’s favorite piece of art hangs in his bedroom: A portrait of Rolling Stones singer, Mick Jagger, drawn by none other than Charlie Watts, the band’s drummer.
While convenience, culture and nightlife drew him downtown, Brian has developed a close circle of friends in Fayetteville and plans to stay. “I grew up in a college town. That was our identity. In downtown Fayetteville, I feel like the people are our identity. I can be single and still feel like I have a family.”
When Alex Landrum came to Fort Bragg in 2013, he rented a little house on Reilly Road, but found himself drawn downtown. “It’s in the middle of everything. You don’t have to go far to be where the action is,” said the well-traveled Virginia native.
After living in Tokyo in his high school years and touring the world with the Army, Alex found a better fit in the historically preserved apartment above the Blue Moon Café. The noise of the bustling restaurant downstairs and the train tracks don’t bother Alex. “After Tokyo, this seems calm.”
Crank operators open and close original single-paned windows. Brick walls, hardwood floors and exposed ductwork give an industrial feel to an otherwise updated and cozy living space.
Like most downtown renovations, what Alex lacks in square footage in the one bedroom, one bathroom home is remedied in the functionality of an open floor plan. Alex has portioned off the open living area to include an office space to display military memorabilia and a bar to highlight an eclectic and rare scotch collection from his travels to Scottish micro distilleries.
Separating the living space from the kitchen and offering modern charm to the historic home are a granite-topped island, stainless range hood and charcoal grey ceramic tile. As evidenced by a fully stocked commercial shelving unit of pots and pans, the kitchen may be the most used room in the home. “Mostly healthy food,” said the psychological operations officer of his culinary endeavors.
Unassumingly tucked near a corner of the living room is a tight wrought iron spiral staircase, which appears decorative. A closer look reveals a hatch to Alex’s favorite feature of his home, a rooftop patio. To an unobstructed 360-degree view of downtown and front-row seat for any fireworks from Festival Park, Alex added functionality. Raised planters, which he constructed himself, are filled to the brim with soil and a hopeful summer bounty of Yukon Gold potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, artichoke and hops.
After literally putting down roots in the historic building, Alex is happy to call downtown Fayetteville “home.” “The brick over the Blue Moon feels solid. Like a real place to live. I don’t think there’s another place like it,” he said.