TRU Colors has purchased the former Century Mills property and is moving forward with plans for its headquarters building, which is set to include a brewery, restaurant and office space.
TRU Colors closed Monday on the former manufacturing building at 715 Greenfield St., which is situated on a 3-acre block bordered by Greenfield, Martin, South Seventh and South Eighth streets. The company purchased the property for $950,000, said Tom Voutsos, president of TRU Colors.
TRU Colors, a local for-profit group that employs Wilmington gang members, announced it had the building under contract this summer
The company has been eyeing brick-and-mortar spaces in the Wilmington area for the business. The firm, however, passed on submitting an application during a request for proposals earlier this year for the former Wave Transit
facility owned by the city of Wilmington. It also worked out a termination of its lease last year on space in the Dutch Square Industrial Park.
The brewery, which is planned at 24,000 square feet, will take up the majority of the roughly 55,000-square-foot building, Voutsos said. The rest of the space will include office and amenities for its employees, as well as a restaurant.
The first phase of TRU Colors' construction project will be to build its offices and brewery space, Voutsos said. Pending necessary permit approvals for construction, he said, plans are to have the brewery finished by May, and the first beer ready in July.
Construction for the first phase will later include classroom space, a daycare, gym, recording studio and reception area, some of which will be used for TRU Colors’ programming and social mission, he said.
The project's second phase would include building a 6,000-square-foot restaurant, he said.
TRU Colors CEO George Taylor first announced in 2017 the concept of hiring gang members as a way to combat gang-related violence in Wilmington. Taylor was traveling and unavailable for comment Tuesday.
More details about the company's future plans are slated to come in the coming months, Voutsos said. TRU Colors has worked out of Untappd's offices at 21 S. Front St. since forming.
The former Century Mills space was an attractive property for the company being that it was close to the communities
that TRU Colors aims to support through its social mission efforts, Voutsos said.
“Its proximity to some of the public housing communities like Houston Moore was definitely a plus to us … And we really want to be part of the fabric of the community that we are going to work in because at the end of the day our social mission is based on decreasing violence in these communities. So being close to these communities is really important to us,” Voutsos said.
TRU Colors has hired Monteith Construction Corp. as its contractor and is working with LS3P Associates Ltd., as its architect. First Key, a Canadian-based brewery industry consulting firm, has been hired for work on the brewery, Voutsos said.
“We are tremendously excited to see what is going to occur there," said Hill Rogers, broker-in-charge with Cameron Management who represented TRU Colors in the transaction. "And I think it's going to be a great kick-start to the future revitalization of that corridor on Greenfield Street."
The company currently has 15 full-time employees, 10 of whom are gang members, Voutsos said.
The company is also currently hiring to fill three positions for the firm, including a director for its recording studio and director of TRU Colors' community ambassador program.
“We’re looking at making three experienced hires right now,” Voutsos said. “And we have been really fortunate in terms of the interest we have received. I believe we’ve had over 100 people reach out already from a variety of backgrounds, which is really exciting. And so right now we’re working through that interview process.”
Those positions are open to anyone regardless if they are affiliated with a gang or not, he said.
“We are definitely still hiring active gang members for all of our entry-level positions,” Voutsos said. “Anything that requires a little more leadership or expertise at this time, we just want to make sure that we have experienced people in those roles. And then eventually we fully expect that the different active gang members that we hire will grow into those leadership positions over time.”
Work is needed to be done on the property before TRU Colors can upfit the space. That work, which includes abatement and site cleanup, is slated to begin before the end of the month. The company also plans to begin submitting permits in October.
Much of last year was focused on refining the company's social mission, Voutsos said.
“This is really a testament to our employees ... and what they’ve been trying to accomplish here for quite some time,” he said. “Their efforts and their consistency and their desire to uplift their communities has resulted in the purchase of this property, and all the good things that TRU Colors is going to have coming its way over the next year.”