Obici apartments open

Published 6:47 pm Saturday, July 30, 2016


New residents of the Meridian Obici Apartments on North Main Street chat around the bar on the pool deck during an open house for the community on Thursday.

New residents of the Meridian Obici Apartments on North Main Street chat around the bar on the pool deck during an open house for the community on Thursday.

Just nine months after purchasing a property on North Main Street that had become the focus of a rally for green space in historic Suffolk, a developer has opened the first of 224 planned apartments on the former site of the old Louise Obici Memorial Hospital.

One of seven planned apartment buildings is open, with 14 of its 32 units already rented by the time Meridian Obici Apartments held a soft opening for invited guests on Thursday.

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“We’ve crossed a lot of hurdles,” community manager Trisha Cass said from the desk in her office in a community building adjacent to the complex’s pool deck. “It’s going to be a beautiful community.”

A vocal group of citizens had risen up to challenge Suffolk officials’ plans to convert the site — which had become an unsightly mess of abandoned concrete parking lots with overgrown islands — into a multi-use development that would include the apartments and an area of retail and commercial properties.

Many in that group had pressed the city to consider a park for the property, encouraging a plan that might have offered access to the Nansemond River, which flows on the other side of a strip of woods behind the new apartments.

Some opponents of the development plan that was finally adopted have been loath to accept their loss — Cass described one loud confrontation by a critic at a recent farmers market event where Meridian had set up a booth — but interest in the community has been keen, nonetheless.

“We’re slowly winning people over,” she said. Events like Thursday’s, to which property managers had invited nearly every Suffolk-area employer they could think of, are designed to make converts and close lease deals.

Cass believes the community’s amenities and the quality of the new construction will make the difference for many of those who visit the new Meridian complex.

Each building will have 32 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 718 square feet to 1,432 square feet. The apartments have nine-foot ceilings and high-end design features, including pass-through kitchens with G.E. appliances, balconies, lighted ceiling fans, fire suppression systems and both satellite television and high-speed internet included in the rent.

Leasing costs change from time to time, but Cass said prices currently range from $950 or so for one of the one-bedroom layouts to $1,550 for the most expensive of the three-bedroom designs, with leases running from nine to 15 months in duration.

The designs are very similar to those of the Meridian Harbourview community, another property developed by Portsmouth-based Waverton Associates.

Cass had worked in that community before moving to the Obici development, and she said it filled quickly after its 2014 opening. That development has since been sold to an investor and is now being managed by Art Craft Management, Cass said.

In both cases, the company has emphasized the “luxury apartment” accommodations and “resort-inspired” amenities available to residents.

The Suffolk community includes a pool with a large surrounding pool deck that includes an outdoor kitchen and bar with grills, a fire pit and various group seating areas. A fitness center, a multimedia theater and a billiards room are all included in the community building. And a “bark park” is planned for the dog-friendly complex.

“We’re going to offer a great lifestyle,” Cass said.

With one of the seven planned apartment buildings nearly half full on Thursday, developers are looking forward to completion of the next one, set for mid-August. By mid-November, all of them are expected to be complete, Cass said.