Downtown development project

A worker with Billy Brock Construction begins removing an air conditioning unit from the back of a building being transformed into apartments and possibly a restaurant downtown at the corner of Center and Walnut streets.

Hammers and saws are ringing downtown near the intersection of Walnut and Center streets as workers demolish the interior of a three-story building that will become apartments and possibly a first-floor restaurant.

Billy Brock, owner of Brock Construction of Goldsboro, said his workers started the demolition a little more than a month ago. The old, brick building at 103 N. Center St. will become eight, one-bedroom apartments, four on the second floor and four on the third floor, he said.

Each of the future 850-square-foot apartments will have high-ceiling rooms, including 12-foot-high ceilings on the second floor and 10-foot-high ceilings on the third floor. The first floor has a 14-foot-high ceiling. Some of the apartments will have one bathroom, and others will have two, Brock said.

The apartments will have balconies at the back of the building where a parking lot is located off of West Walnut Street, he said.

“The owners want to get it further along and see what kind of interest they have in someone opening a restaurant on the first floor,” Brock said.

The demolition work is moving along and hasn’t affected any businesses on Center Street, he said.

“It’s all going pretty smoothly so far,” Brock said. “It’s going to be nice. The owners want to fix them up nice.”

The apartments should be completed in March or April, Brock estimated.

Jeremiah Montgomery, one of four owners of the building, said it is hard to pin down when it was built. But from research he has done, he believes it was in the late 1800s. The building only begins showing up on maps around 1902, he said.

Originally, the building was a furniture store and transformed into other businesses through the years.

“The first floor has been a restaurant since the 1930s,” he said. “It was the Central Lunch for many years, then Ed’s Southern cuisine. We kind of wanted to keep with that in the downstairs part.”

Montgomery said the owners were talking with different people interested in opening a restaurant in the building. Hopefully, that will happen by the end of the year, he said.

“That is the plan, a restaurant downstairs,” he said.

Montgomery said he and his co-owners are interested in investing in downtown with all of the regrowth taking place.

“I think what they’ve done recently with downtown has been amazing,” he said. “It has opened up a lot of opportunity that really wasn’t there in the past. With the ($5 million) TIGER Grant, they are redoing Center Street. We’re obviously seeing a lot of new places coming in.”

But with all of the growth, there is still a shortage of living spaces downtown, Montgomery said.

“The Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation was vital in helping us figure out what opportunities were downtown, what options there were and keeping us up to date with what new things were coming,” he said. “They helped us quite a bit in this big project.”

The owners also worked with the Goldsboro Historic District Commission to maintain many of the historic aspects of the building, Montgomery said.

“I think that makes this project really special,” he said. “That was also one of the fun parts, learning some history. We actually got more history from people who have been in the community a long time. When you get into the early 1900s, typically you can’t find a lot of information on the computer.”

Montgomery said he thought many more opportunities were awaiting downtown Goldsboro.

“We’re hoping this is one of many projects coming downtown,” he said. “There is good growth opportunity here, and I think it’s a good place.”