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Cargo District Business Community Grows

By Jenny Callison, posted Jul 2, 2019
Bryan Kristof, founder of Coworx, stands behind the bar in the new portion of his shared workspace on Queen Street in the Cargo District. (Photos by Jenny Callison)
Wilmington's Cargo District, once envisioned as a residential cluster of repurposed and re-envisioned shipping containers, is now spurring business development in the neighborhood.
 
Not only did three of the nine shipping container units evolve into business offices, but Coworx set up shop in an adjacent building on Queen Street, created partly out of shipping containers. It will unveil a new section of its building this week.
 
Down the block on the corner of 16th and Queen streets, Chris Batten is set to open another iteration of his downtown Wilmington Bespoke Coffee shop next week. The new location is in the front portion of a large quonset hut owned by Cargo District developer Leslie Smith. Batten and Smith are collaborating to turn the remainder of the structure into an event space.
 
Coworx, which relocated to the Cargo District from Barclay Commons in late 2017, offers a range of collaborative work spaces.
 
Thanks to demand -- the original shared desks and private office spaces are at capacity -- Coworx has expanded and will open its new space later this week. The addition, like the portion of the building that was developed earlier, boasts hot desks, dedicated desks and private offices, like the one shown at right.
 
All but one of the eight new private offices are pre-leased, according to Bryan Kristof, founder and owner of Coworx.
 
"We see a demand for private offices," Kristof said, adding that Coworx tries to keep its model "super simple."
 
"We don't lock people into long-term leases," he said. "And everything is wrapped up into one monthly fee."
 
Rents range from $150 per month for a hot desk -- a place for someone to alight and work, but not store work gear. Next step up is a dedicated desk, a workspace that is exclusively the renter's and has a storage compartment. Private office rents range from $500 to $750 per month. Tenants share a break room, office machines and a bar/lounge area.
 
Coworx's community manager Ashley Arnold said that, with the expanded space, Coworx hopes to host artisan shows, musical events and workshops. The first event is an art show July 19, featuring artists from the surrounding Castle Street-Queen Street neighborhood.
 
Now that his original Bespoke Coffee & Dry Goods on the corner of Princess and Second streets is well launched, Batten (at right) wanted a second coffee shop that would reflect the character of its surroundings. The interior of his new shop is sleek, with vintage tile and polished concrete surfaces, open shelving and small work desks for people who want to consult their laptops as they caffeinate. The shop will be open until late afternoon.
 
"It's a very cool industrial space that has roots in Wilmington," he said.
 
An upstairs meeting room is also available, Batten said.
 
Once the new Bespoke is up and running, Batten will turn his attention to building out the remainder of the quonset hut, which will have shipping container-housed bar and kitchen, a back patio partially enclosed by shipping containers, and space for food trucks to pull up and serve. He will manage the space.
 
"It will be an à la carte event space," he said, explaining that people can rent the space and services they need.
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