LELAND — “Snazzy, smart, sophisticated”: these descriptors aren’t often used to describe the Leland Industrial Park, but businessman Bruce Mancinelli has a vision to change that.
After serving on Leland’s economic development committee since Dec. 2016, Mancinelli has devised a plan to actualize the towns’ long-term objective to reinvent – and rename – the park.
“It’s not the most attractive park,” Mancinelli said. “And yet, it’s a park that you would want to be broadcasting.”
The Leland Hub
Mancinelli and his business partner, Pete Peterson, owner of Manufacturing Methods, are in the midst of planning a coworking space in the park.
A 12,000 square foot venue, The Leland Hub will be built on Leland’s first non-residential, satellite parcel in the county park. It’s also the first development in line with Leland’s new non-profit initiative, Leland Innovation Park, Inc.
“We thought we could create a go-to space that could be representative of the future look and feel of the services and the facilities in the park moving forward,” Mancinelli said.
With fiber optic cables, flex spaces, and smart-office technology, The Leland Hub will house entrepreneurial businesses on a pay-as-you-go model. Where Mercantile Drive meets Industrial Boulevard, Mancinelli wants The Leland Hub to serve as the park’s new center.
“Within this park alone, we need something that promotes smart building technology, co-working, light manufacturing and light distribution leasing space because there’s none of it in the park,” Mancinelli said.
Though the hub will be fit with a high-security system, Mancinelli said it will also be inviting. “You have to think of this facility as being a place where businesses could take that first major step,” he said.
The industrial park sits on several hundred acres of industrially-zoned land in northern Brunswick County. Mancinelli’s plans rest on an island of the town’s land, annexed into Leland in June.
As a member of Leland Innovation Park, Inc., Mancinelli said his project will represent the future of the area. An “arduous” yet “attractive” process, Mancinelli first sought annexation in September. He said he initiated annexation before the recent controversy over what entity has the jurisdiction to rebrand the park arose.
“The annexation process predated any of the recent noise,” Mancinelli said. “I’m a business guy, I’m going to go where there’s a level of interest and support.”
When Mancinelli didn’t receive the response he was hoping for from the county, he turned to the town. “Quite frankly, I had ties [in Leland], so selfishly, I went that direction,” he said. “I also give Leland high marks on their economic development.”
Through his work with the town, and recently, the non-profit, Mancinelli said there was never an effort to exclude other stakeholders along the way.
“I think sometimes there are things that I’m afraid I run into that deal with history and petty conflict – and I’m not about history,” he said. “I love history and I think it adds to the personality of the local area, but I’m about the future.”
Remarketing the park
Alongside Gene Merritt, president of the Leland-sponsored non-profit and former president of Wilmington Downtown, Inc., Mancinelli’s coworking project is the first step of a much bigger plan.
With no formal park management company, large tracts of undeveloped land, and just one sign planted next to a salvage yard, Merritt said there’s a basic job that needs to be done.
“We find that the park is basically just a big package of land,” Merritt said. “There is no identity.”
The identity of The Leland Hub will be one of “innovation,” Mancinelli said. He’ll invite food trucks for future tenants and existing businesses, in hopes that the hub’s new neighbors in the park will stop by to connect. “We don’t have the kind of forward-thinking, more dynamic space within this park.”
Expected to break ground before the end of the year, Mancinelli said The Leland Hub will be up and running by summer 2019.
Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at firstname.lastname@example.org