How do you turn an old warehouse into modern office space that is almost completely leased even before opening day?

Check out the new HQRaleigh in the old Warehouse District at 310 S. Harrington St.

The upfit is continuing even as startups and other ventures who have already spoken for most of the space prepare to start moving in on Friday.

Local media – if they chose too, as I did – got a sneak peak at the entire HQRaleigh space covering some 15,000 square feet when Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane kicked off a visit to South by Southwest with a quick press conference. HQRaleigh founders Brooks Bell, Jesse Lipson, Christopher Gergen and Jason Widen are helping sponsor the trip with Widen on the motor home now en route to Austin.

And just as the American Tobacco District was transformed in Durham, so is HQRaleigh contributing to the makeover of the Warehouse District.

From the inside out. (Be sure to check out the slideshow accompanying this post.)

The classic building exteriors stay in place, although the paint can be a bit bright. And some are adorned with remarkable murals. 

But once inside HQRaleigh are plenty of light, glass, exposed beams and brick walls, hardwood floors …

Not seen is gigabit Internet access …

And still to come: A cafe.

HQRaleigh Community Manager Liz Tracy says tenants begin moving in Friday morning. A formal ribbon cutting is set for March 17.

But as HQRaleigh vacates its original space on Hillsborough Street, the new HQ fills up. Tracy says virtually all the 22 office suites are leased.

Biggest tenant so far is WedPics with 13 employees. It’s moving from Hillsborough Street.

However, plenty of co-working space is available, Tracy points out. She estimates there is room for some 70 companies.

In addition to multiple conference rooms, HQRaleigh has two large areas available for meetings and events.

In addition to WedPics, HQRaleigh already has lined up some impressive tenants.

As noted at HQRaleigh’s website, the growing list includes:

  • DXLab Design

“The DXLab suite will be home to at least five design entrepreneurs, from graphic designers to creative mechanical engineers. The suite will be equipped with maker equipment, including a Formlabs 3D printer, a vacuum former, Cintiq, and other tools necessary for hardware entrepreneurs. DXLab and HQ Raleigh will collaborate on design-focused events to better support the growing network of makers and design entrepreneurs in Downtown Raleigh.”

  • NC Office of Technology Transfer

“The NCSU Office of Technology Transfer will maintain an office suite at our new space, which will accommodate ten NC State startups. HQ members will also gain access to the OTT’s expertise in startup acceleration. This partnership will strengthen ties between the entrepreneurial community and University research and innovations.”

  • Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network

“Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network will maintain an office suite at our new space, which will be home to five of their network startups and their Entrepreneurs in Residence. In addition, we will collaborate with Blackstone EN to provide mentorship and to plan high-quality entrepreneurial programming and events.”

  • Seventh Generation Ventures

“Seventh Generation Ventures, the social venture arm of Seventh Generation, will be a partner and anchor tenant in our new space! Their Raleigh team, including CEO John Replogle (former President of Burt’s Bees), will focus on identifying and funding socially responsible companies in the Triangle.”

  • Jubala Village Coffee

“We’ve partnered with Jubala Village Coffee to develop a specialty cafe experience at the new HQ. The cafe will feature high-quality brewing and espresso equipment and appearances by guest baristas. It will also serve as a training space for Jubala and be home to HQ members-only coffee gatherings each month.”

  • Internet through Celito

“Celito, a local Internet, data center, IT and voice provider, will equip the new HQ with Gig connectivity, a level of service beyond what is typically available in spaces like ours. This will enable us to accommodate more startups and to provide our members with the fastest connectivity possible.”

Winning Lineup?

Let’s see … tasteful space, lots of sunlight, coffee, gigabit Internet.

Sounds like a winner.