Can developers in Raleigh create with the guts of an old building what Capitol Broadcasting did with the American Tobacco plant in Durham? 

A first look comes Thursday when LRC Opportunity Fund out of New York kicks off its plans to renovate a former 10-story tall Wachovia regional headquarters at 227 Wilmington Street in Raleigh’s downtown.

“Innovate Raleigh,” the consortium of public and private sector entities focused on bring more high-tech and other entrepreneurial businesses to the city’s heart, is hosting a three-hour event at “227” as the building is being called on Thursday. The program, which will include a presentation of plans for 227 from LRC, also highlights what the Innovate group has accomplished in the year since its launch.

James Sauls, director of economic development for the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, is excited about what the 227 project means for the city.

“This is great for us,” said Sauls, who also is part of the Innovate Raleigh leadership. “They will be making some 110,000 square feet of space available with an emphasis on technology and innovation.”

Raleigh leaders are hopeful they can replicate the success Durham has enjoyed through the turning of American Tobacco into the American Tobacco Historic District, a massive multi-building complex filled with a mixture of high-tech startups at The American Underground and other much larger businesses along with restaurants. Additional projects combined with American Tobacco has sparked a rebirth of Durham’s downtown, which is evolving into a high-tech hub.

The 227 space plus the recent launch of HUB Raleigh – a shared office resource on Hillsborough Street – and decisions by Red Hat as well as Citrix ShareFile to locate downtown is giving Raleigh a lot of momentum, Sauls said.

“Raleigh is a new tech hot spot,” Sauls explained, noting Forbes’ listing of Raleigh-Cary as No. 5 on its list of “America’s New Tech Hot Spots.” 

227’s owners are hosting the Innovate Raleigh group to launch leasing of space and to spell out its plans. LRC purchased the vacant building in November of last year. 

Renovation is scheduled to begin shortly with space becoming available in the first quarter of next year. Lots of windows, open spaces and plenty of natural light are to be part of the remodeled building’s decor. 

“The building at 227 Fayetteville Street is located in the geographic, cultural, political and professional center of downtown Raleigh and with a need for high-quality office space, the location will be a prime spot to do business in this region,” said Howard Lavitt, a co–founder and principal of the LRC Opportunity Fund who plans to be at the event. “The location truly makes the opportunity for collaboration great and the modern amenities added to this timeless, iconic structure will serve the companies thriving in this area for years to come.”

Mary-Ann Baldwin, co-chair of Innovate Raleigh and Raleigh City Council member, noted that 227’s owners “share our vision for the future – creating great spaces and opportunities for business growth and entrepreneurship in Raleigh.”

More than 300 people are expected to attend the opening. A number of groups will be making presentations about startup efforts across the Triangle.

Innovate Raleigh also plans to brief attendees about progress in its efforts and to seek input from the community about topics that will be addressed at a second Innovate Raleigh summit that is tentatively set for September.

(Note: Capitol Broadcasting is the parent firm of WRAL Tech Wire and WRAL.)