September 18, 2016

The Empire Hotel in Salisbury NC is Under Contract!

The Empire Hotel in downtown Salisbury is one of the largest buildings in the four blocks known as 'The Square', and for years it has held nothing but untapped potential. In August of 2016, long-awaited announcements were made that the circa 1800s hotel was finally under contract! The City of Salisbury revealed details of the first steps toward the sale of the building in the 200 block of South Main Street, and introduced the new owner/developer.

The hotel originally opened in 1859, then known as the Boyden House, after Nathaniel Boyden, a local attorney and political figure. The building is an example of Beaux-Arts architecture, a French term meaning “fine arts,” and the style is known for being highly ornamented.

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, according to the building's history page on the county web site. 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 Salisbury Depot. After extensive renovations in 1907, the name was changed to Central Hotel and then later, the Empire Hotel. There was once a domed ballroom on the top floor, and local lore suggests that there was a tunnel from the hotel to the Meroney Theatre across the street to allow famous actors, such as Charles Chaplin, to go back and forth without going outside through crowds and inclement weather. The hotel closed in 1963 after 104 years in business. (Whisenant, D., August 11, 2016,

Downtown Salisbury Inc. purchased the building in 2007, and then our Great Recession hit...causing a stall in the development of this wonderful potential in the heart of downtown.

Realtor® Greg Rapp, with Wallace Realty Co. in downtown Salisbury, has been managing leasing varied retail spaces in the Empire Hotel for Downtown Salisbury Inc. for several years.  With Downtown Salisbury's budget constraints and limited maintenance on the structure, leasing these prominent spaces has been an interesting challenge.

History Preservation Partners Holding, LLC (HPPC), known for developing Loray Mill in Gastonia, now has the Empire Hotel under contract, with due diligence expected to last one year, and intends to develop the property into apartments above and street level shops. Initial plans include 29,000 square feet of retail space in the former Montgomery Ward main floor, mezzanine and basement. WOW!

While the Empire is undergoing its 'due diligence' with HPPC, retail leases are likely to be unavailable here, but if you are looking for a prime downtown location for your business, be assured that Greg Rapp can help you find it! Greg was the match that lit the flame under the award-winning Bernhardt Hardware restoration in downtown, and the catalyst for bringing the buyers to the old Stokes-Snider House, now a fabulously restored bed & breakfast.  Greg is on top of the varied grant programs that are available and more to make establishing your business in Salisbury feasible. 

Greg Rapp can make it happen for you, too!

Put this number in your phone:  (704) 213-6846 . . . and when you are ready, give Greg Rapp a call. Together, let's get your business into one of these fabulous spots in historic Downtown Salisbury!

Greg Rapp 
Wallace Realty Co. 
704 213 6846 Mobile 
704 636 2021 Office 

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