Urban dwelling: Downtown living means easy access to food, fun and entertainment

Published 9:06 pm Thursday, May 29, 2014

TONY BLACK | DAILY NEWS A loft in the making? Perhaps the person who buys the City of Washington-owned historic DeMille building will turn the former City Hall into an example of urban loft living.

A loft in the making? Perhaps the person who buys the City of Washington-owned historic DeMille building will turn the former City Hall into an example of urban loft living.


Strolling the streets of downtown Washington, most rarely look up, occupied instead by the shops and restaurants in direct line of sight. But if a gaze does wander upward, one might wonder what, or who, occupies the upper stories of the many downtown buildings.

Walking along the Washington waterfront, one might idly wonder who lives in those townhomes in Moss Landing.

For many of us, downtown Washington is a place to shop, to dine, to listen to live music on a weekend night, or catch a show at the Turnage Theater. For other, downtown Washington is home to a unique group of people who find urban dwelling — even its small town version — right up their alley.

Two such people are Little Shops of Washington owners Rebecca Clark and Jayne Meisell. Little Shops is located on Main Street, downtown. Clark lives a short walk away in Moss Landing. While Meisell currently lives in River Acres, she’s got her house plan ready to go and, as soon as her house is built, she’ll be calling downtown home.

“My number one thing is I wanted to downsize. I want to less for me to have to do myself, as far as maintenance on a place,” Meisell said. “But everything I do is downtown: work, getting together with friends, eating out.”

When she heard the area next to the existing Moss Landing neighborhood was going to be developed, she contacted developers. Now, her townhome is going up at the same time as the neighborhood’s spec houses.

Meisell’s three story home-to-be will have three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a garage on the ground floor and no yard. But that’s just fine with her, she says. She’ll have plenty outdoor space in decks overlooking the Pamlico River.

“I wanted as much outdoor space as I could get because there’s no yard, but I love to entertain,” Meisell said.

Clark has been a downtown dweller for the past six years—she and her husband, Bill, moved from Greenville, the first buyers of a Moss Landing townhome. The decision to move is one they’ve never regretted.

“It’s vibrant, it’s a great town to walk in. I love my neighbors. It’s a very eclectic neighborhood. There’s always something going on. And of course, you have the beautiful waterfront with the walkway,” Clark said. “It’s got everything. Everything we need is within a mile of our house: restaurants, shopping, the theater. There’s even a small grocery store within a mile (Family Dollar).”

Clark said her daily forays out with her dog, Bear, have given her a unique view of the different segments of society that miss one another, simply because of timing.

“There’s a whole group of people who bike early, from 6:30 to 7 a.m. Later, there are the runners, walkers and dog walkers,” Clark said. “In the afternoons and evenings, people are out on their porches. You start having ‘porch-friends,’ I call them. It’s kind of unique living downtown.”

Meisell said the lack of a larger chain grocery store — the only convenience missing from downtown Washington — is no deterrent for her. She can easily hop in her car and drive the short distance to a grocery store.

“For me, that sort of thing is more important for a boater; having that access when they get to town,” Meisell said. “It has everything else that I need or want. More interesting for me is to be able to walk to the Coffee Caboose or The Blue Door and get a coffee.”

According to the two women, more people should take advantage of small-town urban living.

“There’s a lot of areas downtown that are just perfect for rehabbing,” Clark said. “Once you live downtown, you never want to leave.”