January 18, 2014

Retail Spaces for Lease ~ Central Location in Downtown Salisbury ~ The Historic Empire Hotel

Got a business that could use a GREAT downtown location?  Put your business in the historic & highly visible c. 1855 Empire Hotel on S. Main Street in Salisbury NC! Right across from City Hall! There are spaces big and small to fit your enterprise!

The Empire Hotel was built around 1855. In 1907 the building underwent a renovation completed by renowned NC architect Frank Milburn.  The property is located across the street from Meroney Theatre, Fisher Street Entertainment District, City Hall and a retail gift shop. The hotel has a 60-car parking lot, and the city has purchased additional land for parking. 

Currently, the Empire Hotel houses retail spaces in its vast first floor level. There are a variety of spaces available. One of the available spaces in a large, open, flexible retail location at 220 S Main Street ~ 7500+ square feet with off street parking. This space is in move-in condition. Too big for you?  The owner will help sub divide the space if necessary!

Another space is the former Ralph Baker Shoes site ~ 8,000 sq ft retail space  directly across from City Hall & the Meroney Theatre on Main Street. You get 2,800-3,600 sf sales floor with 18’ ceilings and 4,400-5,200 sf of storage on the first floor. There is a large finished basement, 7,000+ sf and a 4,000+ sf mezzanine is also included. Downtown Salisbury Inc., the current owner of the Empire Hotel, has been upfitting the space with new HVAC, electrical, restored lighting. The space includes off-street parking and leases for $3,500/mnth. 

History of the Empire Hotel

The Empire Hotel began as the Boyden House.  Nathaniel Boyden in started building in 1855 and according to an ad in the Carolina Watchman, the hotel opened in 1859.  The building is an example of Beaux-Arts commercial architecture, a French term meaning “fine arts,” and the style is known for being highly ornamented.  Traveling salesmen showed their wares in the “Sample Room,” an 80 x 30 room.  When not in use, the room was also used as a skating room.  The hotel was a gathering place during the Civil War, and according to local lore, the hotel was occupied by federal officers following the Civil War.  On April 1, 1870 General Robert E. Lee and his daughter took a carriage from the Salisbury Railway Depot to the Boyden House to have breakfast.

The hotel was remodeled in the early 1900’s by Frank P. Milburn, who designed the famous historic Salisbury Depot.  After extensive renovations in 1907, the name was changed to Central Hotel and then later, the Empire Hotel.  There was at one time a domed ballroom on the top floor. Rumor has it that there also was a tunnel from the hotel to the Meroney Theatre across the street, put there so the actors, such as Charles Chaplin and others of the era, could go back and forth without going outside through crowds and inclement weather.  It closed in 1963 after 104 years in business. 

The Empire Hotel is additionally for sale.  

The City of Salisbury has a vision for the future and is making that vision become a reality! In 2010 the City of Salisbury adopted an updated the Downtown Master Plan as the official blueprint for the redevelopment of Downtown Salisbury.Implementation is under way and includes the following:

  • The Fisher Street Entertainment District
  • The RailWalk Art District
  • An expanded residential presence
  • Continued retail growth through recruitment
  • An enhanced streetscape with crosswalks and improved parking areas
  • DSI purchased the former Empire Hotel which is now offered for redevelopment

The Salisbury Downtown Master Plan aims at putting either residences, conference rooms, and/or retail in this wonderful space. In 2000, Downtown Salisbury Inc. performed a study examining potential costs to renovate the Empire Hotel to its original hotel usage, and estimated that it may need $9 million, but that owners could expect to recoup $1.3 million per year.

Located in a local historic district and National Register district, the Empire Hotel is eligible for historic preservation tax credits. It also qualifies for New Market Tax Credits.

Since 1980, Salisbury -- a Main Street Community -- has benefited from over $94 million in downtown investments.

So if that prime location for your business in the heart of a thriving downtown scene is what you've been looking for ~ look no more!

Greg Rapp
Wallace Realty

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