Lafayette Flats began with our simple desire to get out of town. We love our home in Charleston’s East End but we really like to travel. We found out early in our relationship that we travel together well and we love to do it as often as we can. We love taking weekend driving trips to places like Asheville, Columbus, Charlotte and Louisville, and we’ve been all over our home state of West Virginia. Two years ago we drove across the country on Route 66 and last fall we toured Northern California – Yosemite, Redwoods, Wine Country – we loved it all. But big trips are few and far between, so we satisfy our travelin’ Jones by making the drive up to Fayetteville as often as we can. Maybe it’s the Bacon Jam at The Secret Sandwich Society or the Ramp & Chorizo Tacos at Diogi’s, but something keeps us coming back again and again.
We decided that it would be good to find an apartment to rent in Fayetteville because a) we love the town and its vibe, and b) it’s close enough to Charleston to take off on a whim but close enough to make the morning commute if said whim came on a workday eve.
And so we set off to find a little cheap apartment in Fayetteville where we could leave a change of clothes and toothbrush. We knew it had to be in town or within walking distance of town but other than that we had no expectations. We watched the ads and made the trip to town on several occasions to check bulletin boards, but alas we found far more people looking for apartments than places to rent. One day when we were walking through town we saw a “for sale” sign on a building and began to wonder to each other if it might be feasible for us to buy a building where we could have an apartment and perhaps make it pay for itself by renting out other apartments. So we changed the way we looked, and instead of the “for rent” classifieds we looked at those that said “for sale.” Our interest was caught first by a cute little house on High Street but it disappeared from the market before we could make an offer. Next we found an apartment building that was advertised for sale and we waited for months until the owner was ready to show it. While we waited to see inside the building we allowed ourselves to dream of what we could do there. We thought about the quaint little boutique hotel where we stayed in San Francisco and wondered if we could replicate it in Fayetteville. We schemed and planned and dreamed and imagined every possible scenario. We felt good about the vacation rental idea, which seemed to us a good compromise between running a hotel and being landlords; the former we knew we probably couldn’t do and the latter we knew we didn’t want to do. But we felt ourselves becoming part of the Fayetteville community even though we really knew nobody there, and by the time the showing was scheduled we had mentally bought the building – or at least some part of Fayetteville – and were now just waiting for the pieces to fall into place.
At the showing, it didn’t take us long before we decided that this particular building wasn’t right for us, but we were fortunate to tour the building with two people who would play a big part in what would become Lafayette Flats. As we left the building a little deflated, Adam and Elizabeth told us that the stone building next door was also for sale. We were surprised; we had always loved this gorgeous cut-stone three-story walkup and often had wondered about it from the street, but there had been no signs on it indicating that it was for sale. Elizabeth assured us that it was for sale and that her father was a realtor and had recently shown the building. She asked if we would be interested in looking at it and we immediately said “yes.” At that very moment – no exaggeration – that very moment Elizabeth’s father Charlie drove by and honked the horn at his daughter. She got him to come back and chat with us over coffee at Wildflour Bakery. Charlie told us that he felt that the property would be ideal as a vacation rental without knowing that we had been thinking about just that very thing.
We came back to Fayetteville the next week and looked at the building more closely and were amazed by its condition. We began to crunch the numbers and developing construction and business plans. We became more excited by the day at the prospect of owning not just a piece of the town we had come to love, but a historic building that would be a part of the next chapter in Fayetteville’s history.
Now here’s something you need to know about us; we don’t buy each other gifts. oh, maybe a little trinket that we might find that made us think of the other (like the little ceramic monkeys kissing on a park bench – more about them later), but not perfunctory gifts like birthdays or Christmas; that’s just not our style. But for our first wedding anniversary – said to be the “paper” anniversary – we gave each other the gift of a very special piece of paper: a contract to purchase the building that would soon become Lafayette Flats.