Green tenants share space to pool resources
February 4, 2011By Alison Lee Satake
Three local green businesses have come together to rent office and workshop space in the semi-industrial neighborhood off South 17th Street on the edge of downtown.
ILM Design Build, Cape Fear Rain Water Harvesting and Carolina Green Building all have moved into a warehouse located at 1608 Queen St. around the corner from Sapona Green Building Center.
“It’s created this – and Sapona has certainly helped – this little enclave over there. As a property owner that’s what you want. You want people to create a home and stay,” said Matt Scharf, the 1608 Queen Street building owner and property manager.
The 3,200-square foot building was previously owned and occupied by Architectural Elements, a granite countertop and tile flooring company. Scharf bought the building as a foreclosure in August and the green businesses became tenants on Oct. 1.
One of the new tenants, ILM Design Build, an environmentally conscious construction company that is known for its contemporary design aesthetic, put their skills to use in the adaptive reuse space. It also brought in the two other tenants, whom they had worked with on the LEED Platinum home at 3404 Talon Court that was recognized recently by the U.S. Green Building Council for Outstanding Single Family Project.
Another tenant Cape Fear Rain Water Harvesting has installed a 1,100-gallon rain water cistern on the property. And, ILM Design Build has been able to use the harvested rainwater in creating its signature concrete countertops.
The third tenant, Carolina Green Building, has installed solar panels that heat the building’s water.
As a business model, the joint effort works two-fold: sharing tenancy keeps the individual’s rent down and builds business for each of them through referrals.
The owners of ILM Design Build, Matt Hosmer and Bill Christopher said they immediately saw the potential of the Queen Street property, which is two blocks from their former warehouse.
Once they assumed tenancy, they began to make improvements to the building’s finishes using scraps from previous jobs. They built and installed a bathroom sink inlayed with mahogany. They created a conference room table from a slab of light-colored concrete embedded with beach glass and shell. And, in their parking lot they installed a granite ping pong table they made from the warehouse’s old flooring.
The property and tenants have been such a success, Scharf would like to replicate the model. He believes in investing in affordable properties which allows him to keep the rent low.
Another example is 27 N. Front Street, a building Scharf and his partners own that houses Gourmet Market and BuenaSpace, which ILM Design Build renovated.
“If you go out and pay too much, you don’t have a lot of options,” Scharf said in terms of finding tenants. Over the past eight years, he and his business partners have invested in about 175 residential and commercial buildings in Wilmington, he said.
The new green tenants hosted an open house with an oyster roast on Jan. 22. Since opening their doors, other green businesses have expressed interest in creating a similar set up. To meet that need, Scharf said he is looking into new investment properties.
“It grows organically, no pun intended,” he said.