At the corner of South McDowell and West Davie streets in downtown Raleigh sits Empire Properties’ L Building, a new mixed-use complex complete with 83 apartment units, 8,000 square feet of office space and 11,000 square feet of retail space, all of which wrap around a parking deck.
Since the building opened in May, spaces have been filling up quickly.
Almost half of the apartments have been filled, theoffice space has been leased to construction firm Balfour Beatty, and only 2,000 square feet of retail space, which can be split into two units, is still available, said Greg Hatem, Empire’s owner.
So far, the retail space has three signed tenants: Gypsy Jule, a local eclectic clothing and furniture store; a soon-to-be named international home furnishings store; and a 4,000 square-foot Empire Eats restaurant, owned by Hatem, that will sit on the corner of the building’s “L.”
“It’s one of our restaurants,” Hatem said. “We’ve been working on it for 10 years. ... (We) expect it to be open first quarter.”
The first retail tenant, Gypsy Jule, expects to open this fall.
The proximity of the building to other downtown hot spots was a draw for Julie Sezer, the owner of the mobile “misfit mercantile” that sells “urban, rustic and Bohemian-style” products.
83 apartment units
8,000 square feet of office space
11,000 square feet of retail space
“I think it’s going to be a good location. We’ve looked for a long time,” Sezer said of the L Building. “It’s kind of a strategic point to be near the Warehouse District, the convention center and everything going on downtown.”
Gypsy Jule got its start as a brick-and-mortar store at 520 N. West St. in Glenwood South in late 2010. After two years, it moved out of the shop and into a tight camper that Sezer takes to events.
The mobile unit, which opened in 2013, carries women’s apparel, shoes and accessories. The extra space of the 2,300-square-foot L store will allow Sezer to expand on that selection, plus add a small men’s line along with repurposed furniture, which she sold on a limited basis in her first store.
The store will offer things like shirts, pants, jewelry, scarves and belts from brands such as White Crow Clothing, Hard Tail, Alternative Apparel and Native Outsiders. Gypsy Jule’s shoe collection will consist of “casual utilitarian” men’s, women’s and unisex styles from brands like Palladium and pskaufman.
The newly created men’s collection will be limited to items such as shirts, shoes and belts, and jewelry will come from makers mostly out of California, but will include pieces from Raleigh-based Kenda Kist.
Sezer is working with artists from around the country to curate a furniture collection of small- to medium-sized, repurposed pieces that she’ll sell in the store.
“Our focus will probably be to mainly find smaller pieces that can be used in homes and apartments downtown,” Sezer said. “All will be unique pieces. We will carry some new items. But this will be a big focus for us.”
Prices for clothes and accessories will range from about $35 to $400 for a high-end pair of shoes. Most items will be about $65 to $150, Sezer said. Furniture will be between $65 and $1,800.
Sezer says she plans to keep the mobile unit and use it for larger events such as downtown Raleigh’s Wide Open Bluegrass Festival and Brewgaloo. Adding a retail space gives her the opportunity to expand the business and address some of the challenges she faces with the camper, she said.
Durham-based bakery Rise Biscuits and Donuts is opening three franchises in the coming months. The first set to open in late August at 1100 Market Center Drive in Morrisville. Another is expected to open in early fall at 530 Daniels St. at Raleigh’s Cameron Village and the third is coming in October or November at 6325-33 Falls of Neuse Road at Sutton Square Shopping Center in North Raleigh.
The restaurant sells handmade items such as glazed doughnuts, cronies, maple bacon bars and biscuits with country ham, bacon or sausage, along with creative specials like a BLT with basil mayo on a biscuit.
Marco’s Pizza, a franchise that offers pizza, wings, salads and breadsticks, has opened its first location in Clayton at 11689 U.S. Highway 70. The restaurant is having a grand opening Sunday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. that includes free pizza tastings, music, martial arts demonstrations, pizza giveaways and an appearance by the fire department. Franchisee Dan Sykes plans to open three other Marco’s restaurants in the area.
At Northgate Mall in Durham, New York-style pizza place Randy’s Pizza Express has opened its eighth Triangle location in Suite 552 in the food court. ... Magic Nails salon has moved from Suite 464 to Suite 654, in the Macy’s wing.