Building revamped for apartments

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Angel Raya with Jesus Raya’s Constructions hammers roofing shingles down on Wednesday at the Villager Apartments.


Staff Writer

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A 7,200-square-foot building that was once one of the subsidiary headquarters for the Hardee’s franchise is in the process of being converted and remodeled into new apartment units off Sunset Avenue.

Motorists driving up and down the busy street probably have noticed the construction work taking place on the building for the past few months. Emac Hines is the managing partner of Dawson & Hines LLC, which owns the Villager Apartments on Sunset Avenue.

Hines said there will be an additional 10 apartment units at the Villager Apartments for monthly rental. He said crews are in the process of building five new two-bedroom units and five new one-bedroom units that will rent from between $650 and $750 a month.

Hines added the cost of the new apartment units is a more than $500,000 project. He said the completion and scheduled time for tenants to move in will be in the middle or end of April. 

“These are going to be the nicest apartments that you can get in Rocky Mount,” Hines said. “They’re going to be on the high end, and the rent is going to be affordable for the average working person.”

The units will also be furnished with a washer, dryer and a mircowave oven, Hines said.

“I’m not saying that nobody in Rocky Mount does that — but most apartment complexes, they usually furnish the connections, but they don’t furnish the machines,” he said. “That’s included in the rent, which is why I say the the rent we’re charging we feel is good for potential tenants.”

Hines spoke about the history of the building being the original space of the Hardee’s Area 2 headquarters that was constructed in 1982. Hines said Hardee’s Area 2 was one of four divisions across the country after the fast-food restaurant chain’s main corporate headquarters building was first established on North Church Street in Rocky Mount.

After the Hardee’s Area 2 headquarters moved to Raleigh in 1997, Hines said the building went vacant and the company later subdivided the building into six small office suites. Hines said throughout the years, the building would continue to have tenants come and go, such as a law firm occupying a space for a while. The latest tenant was Urton Associate, an alcohol treatment center that occupied the back of the building for 20 years.

Hines said the commericial rental market doesn’t have as high of a demand as the individual residential rental market, so instead of having turnover and empty spaces in the structure he and the company decided to have the property rezoned from commercial to residential.

“At first, the small office market was good, but over the years it has softened and I say it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it in Rocky Mount,” he said. “The last two years, I began to think that I was already sitting on a 7,200-square-foot building that was just vacant with very little prospect of renting in the near future, plus the building had aged enough on the inside that I spent a lot of money trying to fix it back up with no prospects. 

“However, on the flip side, the apartment market is the best I’ve ever seen and I’ve been in business for 40 years in Rocky Mount.”

After assessing all options and with the parking lot in good shape, Hines and the company decided to get with well-known local architect Errol Warren to lay out plans for the new units. Lee Gay Builder in Rocky Mount is the contractor overseeing the project.

“It’s sort of a surprise how well the rental market is doing considering the weakness in the economy,” Hines said. “Rocky Mount has been struggling, but with the new industry announcements that will be coming in the next year or so, you’re really going to see a tight market.” 

Applications for the new units are still available from Village Rental Co. at 252-937-4888.