WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem is experiencing development and redevelopment numbers city officials say they haven’t seen in about 15 years.
“When we started the downtown renovation, the excitement was just rampant,” said Dan Dockery, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County chief building official, speaking of the pre-recession revitalization.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning & Development Services says in 2016, they saw $255 million in new residential construction and $359 million in nonresidential construction, new construction and redevelopment. The $359 million value set a second consecutive 10-year record, with an increase of $47 million from the previous 10-year record high set in 2015. The new residential construction permit value of $255 million was $86 million more than the $169 million residential permit value in 2015, which was an increase of 51 percent.
“It’s a sign that people like what they’re doing here, it’s a sign that people feel engaged and vibrant in the community,” Dockery said.
He highlighted projects such as the Indigo Hotel in the historic Pepper Building, which he says if one of the first modular stacked-type construction hotels anywhere. He also brought up the 757 North Apartments on Chestnut Street, the Link Apartments at Innovation Quarter and the Bailey Power Plant renovations, among others.
“Plans are back here in the back office for it right now,” Dockery added.
Yet, Dockery said the growth is not about the numbers.
“It’s the people that matter,” he said. “Not the dollars, it’s not the buildings, it’s the people.”
Dockery credits the people currently living in Winston-Salem, and Forsyth County, with the growth attracting future residents.
“We just hope they transfer that back into the community, that they find a way to invigorate other people, inspire other people and share a little bit of that community,” Dockery said. “That’s what makes us grow, that’s what makes it fun.”
The county expects to grow in population by 100,000 people over the next 20 years.
“A lot of people from other parts of the country are discovering us and liking what they’re seeing,” said Paul Norby, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County planning director.
He added that the expected rise in population will result in a larger need for homes, apartments, offices and shopping areas.
“We keep hearing about people who are getting ready to bring in construction plans that we haven’t even seen yet,” Norby said.
He also said that pre-recession, the city relied mostly on traditional economic drivers, whereas now, they’ve transitioned to industries which would be more resistant to a recession in the future.
“Before the recession it was more suburban and now it’s really a lot of downtown, central city,” Norby said, of new development.
Norby closed by saying that, although the majority of the new development is in Winston-Salem, they are also seeing good growth in Kernersville, Clemmons and Lewisville.
“You know that you’re taking care of the senses of the community,” Dockery said. “That’s what excites people.”