OakCrest Cos. to rehabilitate ‘Old Star’ site

Posted: November 3, 2012

The Winchester Star

The OakCrest Cos. announced the naming of the Boscawen Street structure as the Old Star Building. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Tom Baker (left) talks with John Barker of OakCrest Cos. Friday morning while touring the Old Star Building on Boscawen Street. OakCrest will renovate the building to create office space and apartments. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — The property management firm OakCrest Cos. unveiled its plan Friday to rehabilitate the former Winchester Star building on Boscawen Street for use as residential and office space.

The building will be redivided into two separate structures, which will consist of about 1,500 square feet of office space for the Winchester Economic Development Authority (EDA) and 8,500 square feet of apartment space.

The plans call for six one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom units that will be rented for $800 to $1,000 monthly, according to OakCrest.

The original building was constructed between 1830 and 1840, and a second one was constructed around 1870. The two were connected in the 1950s.

OakCrest acquired the building from the city government this year; the city Social Services office was housed on the site from 1987 to 2010.

“We’ve always felt that Winchester is so important to the core part of our community — Frederick County and Winchester — and that Winchester had so many buildings with this rich history that needed to be preserved and unfortunately some of them were vacant and run-down,” said Jim Vickers, chief executive officer and chairman of OakCrest.

The firm has completed several rehabilitation projects in Winchester, including the Lovett Building on Loudoun Street and several residential complexes. Its headquarters at 126 N. Kent St. is in a company-restored woolen mill.

“We just felt that to bring these buildings back, to bring people living here and also working here, will really enhance everyone,” Vickers said.

The project is slated for completion next summer. Per the agreement that allowed OakCrest to acquire the property, the EDA will not pay rent for its 1,500 square feet of office space and, after five years, that space will be deeded back to the city government — while OakCrest will retain ownership of the other 8,500 square feet, according to company officials.

Estimates indicate a cost of $1.25 million to renovate the 10,000-square-foot building, or $125 per square foot. The company is expected to qualify for $560,000 in tax credits since it will be restoring a historic structure.

Vaughn Foura, president of OakCrest’s construction, land development and property investment division, said the square-footage cost is in line with the renovation costs for the company’s other projects.

Foura believes the renovation will provide several benefits for the downtown area.

“The biggest impact is, I think, the economic impact,” he said. “Not only giving the opportunity for new apartments for downtown, but bringing in an opportunity for people to live and work in the same community. I think that’s extremely important.”

Winchester Star Publisher Thomas T. Byrd said he is thankful that OakCrest is recognizing the impact the newspaper has had in the community by naming the building the Old Star Building.

The structure, at 33 E. Boscawen St., housed The Star from 1913 to 1945.

When The Star was founded, it was at 14 W. Boscawen St. The next location was 19 E. Boscawen; in 1913, it moved to 33 E. Boscawen.

The site is still referred to as the Old Star Building. The Star did not miss an edition as Linotype machines were carted along Boscawen Street, according to Byrd.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com