Driving through Wilmington and noting the increased density, along with the many other changes that have taken place over the years, I’m often struck by the quote from Mark Twain, advising to “buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”
The lack of space for new development and infill projects is certainly a problem that we are currently facing, and one that is (obviously) not going to go away. This is why adaptive reuse projects are so essential to the economic prosperity and viability of our region moving forward.
Taking the long history of Wilmington into account, it’s not all that unusual to see large commercial buildings go vacant and then remain available on the open market for months, sometimes years. Part of the explanation for this is that these properties were designed with a unique business in mind, that they would take extensive up-fitting to accommodate something new, and there is a relatively small pool of buyers searching for these types of properties.
This is where the expertise and creativity of our commercial REALTORS® really shines, because ‘the next big thing’ is only a step away from the current reality. All it takes is someone with the vision to dream big and see what’s possible, when others may only see dead ends. Just consider the following examples:
- Hi-Wire Brewing - Located at 1020 Princess Street in a large commercial space that was originally a car dealership, prior to becoming the home of Carolina Carburetor Specialists in 1983, the facility includes two outdoor beer gardens, a 24-tap bar, table tennis and foosball. A cool feature of this space is they kept the garage-style doors to let the breeze inside. Also, plans for a new restaurant are in the works, but yet to be announced.
- New Anthem Beer Project Greenfield - The strategic location adjacent to Satellite was a draw for the developers, who successfully repurposed the former Capps Hardware and Industrial Supply building. Soon, it will also house a third-area restaurant for local chef Bobby Zimmerman, True Blue Butcher, and Barrel.
- Seaboard Social Hall - Set in the former National Linen Service building, this ‘next big thing’ will host a food and drink hall, a commissary kitchen, music venue, and more. Monarch Property Co. has allocated $20 million for renovations to the building, which is located across from the Rusty Nail and totals approximately 43,000 square feet. Work is expected to be completed by 2023.
- Tru Colors Brewing - Located in the site of the former Century Mills facility on Greenfield Street, this is one of the more captivating/inspirational stories, as the brewery directly employs rival gang members, who run the brewery, brew the beer and serve the community. As stated on the website, the company is overcoming street violence by directly engaging the community to bridge divides and create opportunity, all while teaching life skills with professional training.
Aside from revitalizing the neighborhoods in which they are located and providing an economic benefit that might not have existed otherwise, repurposing existing structures keeps us in touch with our history and culture. It is also worth noting that adaptive reuse projects are more cost-effective than building from scratch since they leverage existing infrastructure such as streets, water, sidewalks and sewer.
With a lot of fun places already built out and many new exciting projects on tap (pun intended), I am excited for what the future will bring. To connect with a Commercial REALTOR® with the vision and creativity to help you bring your dream into reality, or for more information about the nuances of the commercial sales and acquisition process, which can be very complex, visit www.rcasenc.com.
Tom Gale is the 2021 president of Cape Fear REALTORS®, an organization with nearly 3,300 members who serve as the region’s Voice of Real Estate. Cape Fear REALTORS®, through advocacy, education, and community involvement, support efforts to protect the rights of property owners, promote the availability of housing, and provide resources to guarantee every individual has the right to share in the “American Dream.” For further information on this topic and the association, please visit www.capefear.realtor or contact the Cape Fear REALTORS®® at 910-762-7400.