WILMINGTON — The developers behind the revitalization of the Soda Pop District and anchoring Coca-Cola building are kicking off reconstruction soon.
Dubbed “The Bottle Works Building” project, hammers will start hitting at the corner of Princess and 10th streets this March. The reconstruction is being split into two phases, with the first focused on the upfit of the former Coca-Cola Bottling Plant’s warehouse and retail portion and its entry on Princess Street. The second step will touch the cornering Bottling Works building, currently hidden by metal blockades.
The first phase is anticipated to finish by summer. Once open, the Coca-Cola building will act as a flex space for makers. It spans approximately 74,000 square feet and will be sublet with 400- to 12,000-square-foot spaces.
So far, Parastream Development is reporting “good traction” on potential tenants. Four different users have made offers on over half of the space. The company believes it could end up with up to nine tenants and still have room for smaller sites.
One of the announced renters, Craftspace, plans to operate its upcycled, shipping-container manufacturing business out of 5,000 square feet, with potential for future expansion. The company turns crates into pool cabanas, home gyms, studies, offices, and homes. Capitalizing on the growing trend, it reported in October a 40% increase in business over the past year.
The Coca-Cola building makes up over 1.5 of 7 acres Parastream Development acquired in October for $8 million as part of a joint venture. At the time, partner Andy Hewitt explained his team was interested in investing in the area for years and was always drawn back to its potential, with its proximity to downtown, schools, neighborhoods and the hospital.
In all, the land purchase spans more than three city blocks, with empty parcels and buildings throughout the 900 block of downtown Princess Street. One other building is undergoing construction, in addition to this Coca-Cola project and the work in the front of Hi-Wire.
Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects and Monteith Construction Co. are collaborating to transform the building. Hewitt and Sandy Thorpe, partners of Parastream Development, are spearheading it.
“The Bottle Works Building is a unique product coming to Wilmington offering well-designed urban flex space for makers who need a central presence downtown and could get lost in an industrial park setting,” Thorpe said in a release. “BMH and Monteith have helped develop a design to activate the building and make it interactive for its tenants and consumers.”
The same real estate team transformed a nearby 1950s car dealership into what is today Hi-Wire Brewing. Its now been open for a little over a year. Construction work on an adjoining, front building should be complete by this April or May. According to permits, Cugino Forno Pizzeria is going into that space.
The Soda Pop District is also home to Folk’s Café and Jengo’s Playhouse, the base of Wilmington’s independent Cucalorus Film Festival. As part of its redevelopment, the side of the Coca-Cola building facing the western Cucalorus complex will be repainted with film-inspired graphics. In fact, two film productions are utilizing the site in the short term and will remain there throughout construction.
A news release from Wilmington Downtown, Inc. indicated there would be more announcements in retail and hospitality tenants coming to the neighborhood, as well as a new mercantile storefront at Princess and 10th streets. Architect Bruce Bowman described the project as “reactivating the neighboring streetscapes.”
“Factory and storage tenants will be able to have storefront presence to provide an innovation incubator which will be at the center,” Bowman added.
The team is advertising the multi-tenant warehouse as accommodating to light manufacturing, assembly, warehouse, and distribution. Tenants will share amenities like communal loading docks and drive-in bays.
The second phase of construction will cover 13,000 square feet of ground as part of the corner building, currently hidden behind panels on the corner of Princess and 10th streets. This part is known as the Bottling Works, a historic building from the 1920s.
According to the news release, phase two “maintains the building’s primary storage uses, but subdivides spaces, adds support spaces, and will accommodate new uses, including factory, mercantile, and limited assembly uses with future phases possibly accommodating a co-working office and shared studio environment.”
Pegg, Will Daube and Cody Cress with The CRESS Group at Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners are overseeing the leasing.
“The adaptive reuse and investment by Parastream in this historic property within the Soda Pop District will create new opportunities for manufacturing jobs – especially those in the sustainability sector like Craftspace – and is a welcome addition to our downtown,” Holly Childs, WDI’s president and CEO, stated in the release. “This entire district will benefit from today’s investment in The Bottle Works Building as a catalyst for future development of neighborhood retail, restaurants, hospitality and housing.”
This article was updated to include new information from Parastream.
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