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Published: The News & Observer, Jul 11, 2004

Author:
Dudley Price;
Staff Writer

Developer buys David Allen site
Hatem snags acre in Glenwood South

RALEIGH -- If location is everything, developer Greg Hatem's latest purchase has it all: an acre of downtown land between the booming Glenwood South entertainment district and the Triangle Transit Authority's planned State Government Center station.

Hatem's Empire Properties has contracted to buy the former site of the David Allen tile and marble company at Harrington and North streets. He plans to redevelop the site into a $4 million mix of restaurants, shops, offices and condos.

"It's a perfect location," Hatem said. "It's the first place you'll go when you come off the TTA. It's up on a hill.

"It's got great visibility, and a rooftop restaurant will have a view of downtown over to Glenwood South."

A decade ago, the site in a industrial area, just south of the former Pine State Creamery and adjacent to the CSX railroad tracks, wouldn't have seemed so attractive.

But the southernmost blocks of Glenwood Avenue, including the old creamery, have been redeveloped into a bustling strip of bars and restaurants. Two blocks away, the TTA has chosen a site at Lane and Harrington streets for a station that it plans to open in late 2007.

Real estate experts said the former tile company land stands out because only a few other sites are available for redevelopment in the Glenwood South area, and those parcels are much smaller -- only about a quarter-acre.

"Glenwood South at this point is pretty much occupied with retail," said Diana Conn, a commercial real estate appraiser and president of Paramount Appraisal Group. "There really isn't that much else left out there in that immediate area.

"Now people will be looking for other retail space, so this will expand it into the surrounding area," Conn said. "Without the Glenwood Avenue address, they may be able to get in for lower rental rates."

The area's popularity and scarcity of sites has sent property prices soaring.

Land for the 510 Glenwood condominium and retail project cost about $15 per square foot when it was assembled in 1997. Only a half block away, but six years later, developers of The Paramount condo project on Johnson Street paid about $40 per square foot, Conn said.

Hatem, one of downtown's largest landlords, wouldn't say how much he has contracted to pay for the David Allen site. But in 2000, he paid $1.5 million for three-fourths of an acre on North Street with a 24,000 square-foot building now occupied by Capital Fitness. That comes to $62.50 per square foot. Hatem said he will pay about 25 percent more per square foot for the former tile company.
The site has three buildings on it. Hatem plans to renovate a 4,000-square-foot building at Harrington and North streets for offices. An adjacent 6,000-square-foot warehouse will be razed and replaced with a four-story, 20,000-square-foot structure with retail on the lower floors and three condominiums on top. A two-story, 7,000-square-foot building facing West Street will be renovated for a restaurant with rooftop dining.

The David Allen Co. had occupied the site since the 1920s, but the property became available after the company moved to Rush Street in South Raleigh about a year ago, Hatem said. The redevelopment project is expected to take a year to complete.

Staff writer Dudley Price can be reached at 829-4525 or dprice@newsobserver.com.

 
 
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