Former 1950’s motel to be converted into apartments

Published 2:36 pm Thursday, November 2, 2023

A unique approach to housing is underway in Washington. The former Sunset Inn at the intersection Hackney Avenue and Carolina Avenue is being converted into a 27-unit apartment building soon to be called Carolina Studios. 

At the helm is real estate investor, Kyle Barnes of Washington. Barnes started in mechanical engineering at Carver Machine Works, but after 15 years there, he started investing in rental properties – commercial, single-family residences and multi-family apartments. 

Investing in rental properties that already existed was a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, because of competition, the market and price increases, Barnes said. 

“We had to start looking at ‘well, where we can create or reposition an asset to create some housing,’” Barnes said. 

The creative process to remodel the former motel into an apartment building began in January of this year when Barnes acquired the property. Since September, crews have been working to get the building ready for leasing by March 1, 2024, Barnes said. 

“This renovation will be so significant that we don’t want it to look like it was ever a motel,” Barnes said. “This is not lipstick on a pig.” 

The Sunset Inn was a 24-unit motel with a two-bedroom apartment above the lobby. 

Working with Stocks & Taylor Construction, Barnes is upgrading utilities and bringing the 1950’s building up to code. The new studio efficiency apartments will have full-size kitchenettes. The lobby was demolished so that two, two-bedroom ADA compliant, handicap accessible apartments could be built. The standard apartment size will be 225-square-feet. 

Rent will start out at $725 per month and all utilities (water, sewer, electric and internet) are included. 

Anyone who meets the leasing requirements will be able to rent an apartment at Carolina Studios. Prospective tenants should meet a minimum credit score, a minimum income requirement and a criminal background check. The apartments are not dedicated to any particular group or income level, Barnes said.