A pair of Wilmington investors has plans to breathe new life into an aging Market Street office complex.
Father and son partners Erik and Levi Hemingway plan to purchase and then renovate the roughly 13,000-square-foot, single-story office building at 717 and 715 Market Street. The two completed a similar renovation last year on the nearby office that now houses Nomad Capital, the real estate investment firm the Hemingways co-founded.
Work on this latest office renovation kicked off about two months ago, Levi Hemingway said, after the building was brought to them off-market. The two had recently finished renovating an office at 616 Market St., a building that had been for sale for several years before they invested in it.
“When we had the opportunity … to do the same type of project just across the street, we were excited to do that,” Levi Hemingway said. “It definitely needs a lot of fresh life breathed into it, which is what we're doing.”
Working with Lisle Architecture and Design, Inc., they developed initial plans and schematics for the renovation. They plan to upgrade the side of the building that fronts Market Street by installing new storefronts and reworking the building’s facade, Levi Hemingway said.
They’ll also replace the building’s roof, HVAC system, plumbing and electrical. Inside, they plan to add open space and glass office dividers to allow in more natural light, Levi Hemingway said. They plan to add several clerestories – boxy versions of a skylight – to bring in more natural light. Plans also call for a rooftop patio area that will be accessible from the first-floor offices.
“Whoever occupies the space can go up there and just enjoy a rooftop deck,” Levi Hemingway said.
The planned upgrades were unanimously approved earlier this month by Wilmington’s Historic Preservation Commission. The 7-member commission is responsible for reviewing exterior alterations within Wilmington’s historic district to ensure they meet the city’s design standards.
With the commission’s approval, the Hemingways are working to finalize the architectural and engineering plans, which they hope to have in hand by early December, Levi Hemingway said. They will then work to get building permits for the project.
The building is currently owned by 717 Market Street LLC, which purchased the property for $900,000 in 2018, according to property records. The site’s commercial building was constructed in 1971, according to the city of Wilmington. The building is currently vacant but had been used as a workshop for the last few years, Levi Hemingway said.
The Hemingways are set to close on the property in early January. They hope to begin construction in late January or early February with construction lasting between 10 months to a year. Once complete, they plan to lease the space to tenants.
Nomad Capital specializes in converting retail or warehouse space into self-storage, but Levi Hemingway said he sees potential in the company’s investment in renovating downtown office space.
“I think there's a ton of opportunity. I think there are a ton of different buildings that could be converted and renovated, and I don't really see a lot of other people doing that,” he said. “We would love to continue to find projects that make sense and that could be renovated and just bring some new life into them.”