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TRU Colors Eyes Century Mills Property For Brewery, Office Space

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jul 17, 2019
A rendering of TRU Colors' plans for the Century Mills property. (Rendering courtesy of TRU Colors)
TRU Colors has set its sights on the old Century Mills complex for its planned brewery, restaurant and office space.
 
TRU Colors, a local for-profit group that employs Wilmington gang members, has the 3-acre property and building located at 715 Greenfield St. under contract and is estimated to conduct due diligence on the property and close in about 60 days, George Taylor, CEO of TRU Colors, said Wednesday.
 
TRU Colors’ concept and business model, along with its social mission platform, have been in the works for several years. The Greenfield Street location is the latest plan for a location for TRU Colors, with a former Wave Transit facility serving as a potential option recently that did not pan out.

The company had also announced last year that it had leased space in the Dutch Square Industrial Park but did not end up moving into the space, working out a termination of the lease with the landlord.
 
Plans now for the Greenfield Street property are to take the operation and scale it into the roughly 55,000-square-foot former Century Mills space (pictured below), which is slated to house its business, including a brewery, offices, restaurant, daycare, gym, recording studio, classroom space and a reception area.
 
Outside of the building, TRU Colors has plans for about an acre of green space on the 3-acre city block for entertainment and other activities.
 
TRU Colors has hired Monteith Construction Corp. as its contractor and is working with LS3P Associates Ltd., as the architect for designs. For the brewery, Taylor said it is working with First Key, a brewery industry consulting firm.
 
Taylor said TRU Colors expects to break ground sometime this fall, pending the completion of the due diligence phase.

"We're looking at, for the office space, being moved in by the end of the first quarter of 2020 ... and then for the first beer being produced by 4th of July next year," Tom Voutsos, president of TRU Colors, said.

“TRU Colors is more than a brewery and the space we are going to be utilizing there is going to reflect that,” Voutsos said. “Basically, within the building itself, we will be hosting a lot more than just a brewery and offices. The idea is: the same way that TRU Colors has an impact on a community, just outside of employment, we're going to do the same thing with that building space too.”
 
Taylor did not disclose the purchase price of the property or the amount of investment he plans to make into the building to get it operational for TRU Colors' plans. The current owner is C. Mills SPE LLC, managed by Wilmington developers Howard Penton III and Mark Maynard.

Penton said at the time they purchased the property in 2014 that the owners envisioned the complex playing host to several microbreweries. 

TRU Colors had originally expressed interest in the city-owned property at 1110 Castle St. for the project.

The site was previously used for a Wave Transit maintenance facility and was the center of a request for proposals (RFP) put out by the city of Wilmington in May. Taylor had sent an unsolicited proposal into the city prior to the RFP process, by way of a newly formed nonprofit corporation TRU Impact.

The nonprofit was formed specifically in the interest of working with the city on the project. 

But Taylor said he did not pursue the property further because of the housing aspect in the city’s RFP.

Taylor said the entity still exists but is not being utilized at this time.
 
“That wasn’t going to work for us. So we looked at this building and the more we looked at it, the more we thought it was a better solution for us anyway. There is a lot more space … there’s just so much potential there,” Taylor said.

Hipp Architecture and Development PC had ultimately placed the only response to the RFP, which included a mixed-use project that included affordable housing and would bring together a group of private investors and community development partners, including Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity.

City staff had recommended rejecting the proposal through a resolution to council members this week. Council, however, at their Tuesday meeting, decided to give the proposal more time and motioned to continue the item for its second meeting in August.

For the Century Mills property, Taylor said, that the building will be home to the business and will give them space to further build on its social mission platform, which includes its DistruptU curriculum; TRU Work, an apprenticeship program; TRU Stories, its video content business; and TRU Start, its daycare.

The organization currently employs about 20 people, with plans to build staff to about 80 to 90 people when operations fully begin. A position is currently being solicited for a brewmaster, Taylor said.

"We are trying hard to set up [the brewery] as a place where all kinds of people come. It could be someone that lives on the south side, it can be someone that lives in Landfall … anywhere really. The point is, that it’s a place to come together, that drives unity and conversations. It’s intended to drive experiences, not just to come to drink beer," Taylor said.
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