The permits are in and plans are set. Loading Dock Raleigh will more than double in size in coming months, opening 15 additional office suites, more conference rooms, a classroom and a mini “commerce hub” for growing consumer product and e-commerce companies.
“We have a cool community of people who know packaging, know Amazon and who are working with the same retailers,” says community manager Carter Ellis. “We’re already sharing a lot of resources.”
Loading Dock always planned to expand into a larger space in the old Winn-Dixie distribution facility on East Whitaker Mill and Atlantic Avenue. But an outside investor is helping make it happen this year. According to an SEC filing back in May, $836,000 came in from a Florida group. Ellis declined to share details of the investor, only revealing that it shares the vision of Loading Dock as a place open to everyone and specifically for social impact and product companies to grow.
It will be “the financial engine moving forward”, he added.
Loading Dock Raleigh was envisioned as a workspace for makers back in 2015, when owner Phillip Freeman announced plans to build a community around his all natural insect repellent company, Murphy’s Naturals. Murphy’s now works alongside Good Dirt, an all-natural soil conditioner, and Mister Pompadour, a men’s hair product company. The North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild also operates in the space, serving makers in the craft beer industry.
Restaurant review app CurEat celebrates local chefs and food makers, while local nonprofits Activate Good and the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation are engaged in the local food movement. The Loading Dock team believes its expansion will help grow that community, providing even more services to help them build their businesses.
The project begins with a two-story expansion in an old egg refrigerator adjacent the existing coworking area. There’s been demand for office suites since the space opened, Ellis says, counting 23 existing office suite members and 90 in coworking. Small offices and conference rooms will be available this fall, as well as the classroom for both tenants and outside rental.
An interior courtyard that abuts the expansion space and several other building tenants will also get an upgrade.
Work on the commerce hub will begin soon after. There, Ellis envisions areas of 100 to 1,000 square feet for companies to store product or materials. There will be a fulfillment and staging area for packaging and preparing items to ship, a printing and label station and easy access to the loading dock.
Loading Dock Raleigh has negotiated with FedEx for cheaper shipping rates and daily pickups, to ensure companies can meet the two-day delivery required for Amazon Prime.
And plans are for a small photography studio to help makers capture the best images of their goods. Ellis calls it “an in between” for companies who don’t need or can’t afford their own facility but hope to move their business out of their home or garage.
Most importantly will be the collaboration and knowledge sharing that will come from multiple companies working alongside each other, he says.
Meanwhile, developers of the building known as Dock 1053 are sweetening the deal for Loading Dock and other tenants.
Since the coworking space opened last summer, the building has targeted the maker and creative community with tenants including the modern furniture store Trig and design studio Glas, which has a neon glass blowing studio and gallery in the building. Work is underway on a cafe called Hummingbird, to be operated by fellow tenant Posh Nosh Catering, and a wedding and events venue will also open in the space.
Clothing company Cotton Bar Apparel is coming soon, as well as the showroom of an architectural millwork company in Wilson.
Dock 1053 developer Grubb Ventures also owns 25 acres across Atlantic Avenue, the site of an old steel warehouse turned recycling center, where plans are to build a mixed use project comparable to Atlanta’s Ponce City Market, Ellis says.
Don’t expect a grand opening for at least five years—planning has only just begun. But Ellis is already pumped for a bridge connecting the two sites, helping to make the Loading Dock community even stronger.