Andy Hewitt and Sandy Thorpe helped bring Wilmington’s Soda Pop District to life by filling the former Coca-Cola Bottling facility at 921 Princess St. with tenants, but they’re not finished yet.
The partners in Parastream Development, which has an office in a renovated building at 920 Princess St., have accomplished the first part of their plan after buying 921 Princess St. in 2021.
“I think this year will see us break into phase two plans for our urban infill lots and the renovation of the corner building [at 10th and Princess streets],” Hewitt said in April. “The idea of this makerspace and the demand for warehouse space combined with retail and office – it’s worked out. We’re 92% occupied.”
Hewitt and Thorpe met through friends in Charleston, South Carolina, where in 2014, at the age of 26, Hewitt started a full-service real estate company. In November 2020, he sold this business to relocate to Wilmington, his wife’s hometown, and dedicate his time to development opportunities in downtown Wilmington.
Tenants inside much of the 66,000 renovated square feet at 921 Princess St. in the Soda Pop District include movie studios, clothing supplier Beach & Barn, Pomona Shrub Co. and a dozen more. On the way is Ibis, a cocktail bar and coffee shop that will include a listening room in partnership with Gravity Records.
“That could be open by September, which will be a really nice addition to the front of the Coke building,” Hewitt said.
A building owned by Hewitt, 1020 Princess St., is home to two separate establishments, Hi-Wire Brewing and Cugino Forno, a restaurant specializing in Neapolitan-style pizza.
At 1002 Princess St., Raleigh-based Bowstring Brewyard is getting close to opening a new brewpub. Bowstring will operate out of 8,900 square feet and will feature one of the largest continuous bar tops in town, with seating for more than 42 customers.
Hewitt said Bowstring could be open by Memorial Day, which is May 29 this year.
“Just in our spaces alone, there are 17 businesses, in about three blocks, who have moved here since we started,” Hewitt said. “That’s not to mention the businesses that were here, like Folks Café or Dan [Brawley] with Cucalorus, and then some other businesses have moved in.”
The Coastal Entrepreneur Awards nomination for Parastream Development noted, “This real estate development company has taken an approach in Wilmington that people enjoy seeing. Instead of tearing down buildings and clear-cutting land, they look for new uses for old buildings. The former Coke Bottling facility – here is an instance where everyone believed this was going to be torn down. Andy and Sandy came up with an idea for smaller, more manageable warehouse spaces that are challenging to find in the downtown area.”
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