Empire Properties’ first historic preservation project, the 1995 renovation of a 1950s warehouse on West Street to house Jillian’s Billiards Club, inspired in Greg Hatem and partners Joe Hatem, Mickey Hatem and Bucky Ransdell, the desire to revitalize downtown Raleigh. The early success of this first project and their appreciation of old structures drove the formation of Empire Properties’ plan to complete one downtown Raleigh development project each year over the next five years. Other early redevelopment projects included Commerce Place, a 40,000-square-foot, 1950s four-building complex in the warehouse district (Depot District), and Peak Fitness (originally Capital Fitness), downtown Raleigh's only 24/7 health club housed in a renovated 24,000-square-foot 1950s warehouse on North Street.
Since 2000, Empire Properties’ success has enabled the company to accelerate its pace of redevelopment and historic preservation in downtown Raleigh. The full service real estate development company now owns and manages 41 downtown Raleigh properties that offer a range of office, retail and restaurant space. Downtown Raleigh buildings currently undergoing renovation by Empire Properties include: Heilig Levine, Odd Fellows Building, Raleigh Furniture Building and Raleigh Bonded Warehouse. The company also recently started work on three new real estate development projects: The Lafayette, featuring luxury condominiums and a boutique hotel on Salisbury Street; David Allen Buildings, a mixed-use development in the Glenwood South area; and a mixed-use, collaborative project with Wake County on West Davie Street.
While its historic preservation, redevelopment and real estate development efforts have had a strong, positive impact on downtown Raleigh and its buildings, Empire Properties also has been intimately involved with the City of Raleigh’s efforts to revitalize downtown. From actively participating in the Livable Streets Partnership Steering Committee and the Fayetteville Street Visioning Team, to providing in-kind office space to the Raleigh Urban Design Center (a Division of the Department of City Planning), Empire Properties is deeply committed to brightening the future of downtown Raleigh.
For its real estate development and historic preservation efforts, Empire Properties has been recognized by the Raleigh City Council with the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Community Appearance, by the Triangle Business Journal with the Edge Award for Best General Contractor in an Urban Environment, and by the Triangle Commercial Real Estate Women with the Impact Award for work in restoring downtown Raleigh. Empire Properties also has received a number of Capital Area Preservation Anthemion Awards for its outstanding dedication and commitment to excellence in historic preservation.