A developer who restored historical buildings on North Front and Princess streets in downtown Wilmington has turned his attention to another corridor.
Recently, James Goodnight bought 555 Castle St. for $800,000 from the Davis family, according to property tax records.
The purchase adds to what Goodnight refers to as an assemblage of properties on Castle, which also includes 539, 545 and 551 Castle St. as well as 515 Price’s Alley.
A plaque associated with 555 Castle indicates it was built as Alex Kosch Furniture in 1922, Goodnight said.
“Though the building’s facade has been altered over the years with stucco and a newer storefront, there is some great historic masonry, an original cornice, and tin ceiling visible,” he said in an email. “The team is excited to dig in and see what else is hiding ready to be brought back to light.”
Some parts of Castle Street are in danger of losing their historic designation because of buildings that have been lost in the 20 years since Wilmington performed its last survey, which is set to be updated this year.
For buildings that have been demolished, such as those in the 600 and 700 blocks of Castle Street that had to be torn down because of hurricane damage or neglect, it’s too late to do anything.
“Once they're gone, there's no coming back,” said Travis Gilbert, executive director of the Historic Wilmington Foundation.
But in the case of 555 Castle, which still stands, Goodnight said he’s hoping to have an impact on its status.
“While we won’t be creating a new historic building, we’ll hopefully be bringing one back to contributing status, which is great in light of recent news of some older buildings being lost to progress,” Goodnight said in the email. “Though it’s a bit too early to say for sure, the thought is that this building will be another historic preservation tax credit project.”
The building is currently home to Cape Fear Antiques & Home Decor, which was advertising a store closing sale with window signs on Monday.
Goodnight said, “We’re leasing 555 back to Cape Fear Antiques through the end of April, so interior demolition and discovery won’t commence until later this year.”
He is also leasing back 539 Castle St. to its seller Michael Moore and Michael Moore Antiques for the time being. Among the other properties Goodnight has purchased in Wilmington is the building that holds seafood restaurant Seabird at 1 S Front St.
Gilbert said, “James Goodnight has a great track record of stewarding old buildings.”
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