A Georgia-based developer known for turning historic properties into residential projects has invested for the first time in downtown Wilmington real estate.
Pace Burt, of Pacebook & Associates in Albany, Georgia, bought the first floor of the former Soapbox building, where a Waffle House restaurant opened earlier this year, at 255 N. Front St. Burt paid $700,000.
"I'm an investor and I just kind of looked at the lease on the Waffle House and the location and thought it was going to be a good long-term play," Burt said Wednesday.
Burt, who has apartments under construction in Asheville and has multi-family developments throughout the Southeast, said he might invest more in Wilmington in the future.
Eastern Carolinas Commercial Real Estate broker Nicholas Silivanch represented the seller, North Front LLC, in the transaction. North Front LLC owns the remainder of the building.
Silivanch said after Waffle House hiring announcements for the location were made several months ago, the seller got multiple offers for the space from potential buyers.
North Carolina is "a great state to do business in, and Wilmington just blew me away with how beautiful it was," Burt said.
While the Waffle House space is an investment rather than a renovation project for Burt, he said 75 percent of his portfolio consists of historic renovations.
Burt purchased the Monaghan Mill in Greenville, South Carolina, in 2003 and converted it to The Lofts of Greenville, according to an Upstate Business Journal article
. The Lofts of Greenville is one of several mill projects Burt has undertaken with the help of historic tax credits.
These days, historic properties in Wilmington and elsewhere are getting harder to find, Burt said.
"These downtown buildings have just quadrupled in price in the last five years because there's such a demand," Burt said.