Published: The News & Observer, May 17, 2005
Author: Dudley Price
Page: Page: D3
Plans in works at water plant
RALEIGH -- Developer Greg Hatem, one of downtown's largest private
landlords, plans to redevelop a landmark water treatment plant into
an office, condominium and restaurant complex that could spur development
south of the city's new civic center.
Hatem is buying the historic E.B. Bain Water Treatment Plant on
Fayetteville Street near the intersection with South Wilmington
Street, about a mile from the emerging convention center.
"It's an amazing site," said Hatem, a principal at Empire
Properties. "It's also part of the southernmost link to downtown."
Hatem plans to convert 4,000 square feet of the two-story Art Deco
building into a restaurant. The remaining 25,000 square feet will
be for offices. A five-story or six-story building with several
dozen condos also is planned for the 2.88-acre tract.
City officials hope the project will prompt more development south
of downtown, which hasn't been redeveloped like other inner-city
areas. City Market and Glenwood South, for instance, have been redeveloped
with shops, bars and restaurants, but the area on South Wilmington
Street near the Bain plant has little commercial development.
"The site could be the spark plug to convince other investors
to recognize the area's potential," said Dan Becker, executive
director of the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission.
Becker said that adaptive uses of other historic properties such
as the former Pine State Creamery and Powerhouse Square boosted
redevelopment in the Glenwood South entertainment district. City
Market renovations more than a decade ago helped transform an area
around Blount Street.
City officials have had hopes for the water treatment plant before.
Designated a city and national historic property, the plant was
built in 1940 by the federal Works Progress Administration and has
cast-iron hanging lights, detailed French doors and gold moldings.
It was used for water treatment until 1987 and water storage until
1997. The city sold the property in 2001 to a private development
partnership, Water Works II LLC, which planned to spend $7 million
to convert the building into offices and a restaurant. The project
never got off the ground and Hatem recently contracted to buy it.
Hatem declined to name the purchase price but the property is assessed
on Wake tax records for $328,560. Hatem said he won't begin redeveloping
the site for about two years. By that time, the $192 million civic
center should be nearing completion, as will an adjacent 400-room
"We'll stabilize the building [but] we want...the market to
focus more on the southern end," he said.
Caption: The E.B. Bain Water Treatment Plant on Fayetteville Street,
built in 1940, was used for water treatment until the late 1980s
and water storage until the late 1990s. Staff File Photo