RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Boxyard RTP, a more than 18,000 square foot development built from repurposed shipping containers, will open this week.
We are thankful to be opening at the start of this summer, as Boxyard is an ideal spot for folks looking for ways to safely gather outdoors and support local businesses at the same time,” said Morgan Weston, the director of marketing and communications for the Research Triangle Foundation, which owns and manages the site.
The 12-acre site sits within the larger, about 100-acre development, Hub RTP, which also includes the RTP Frontier. The site is adjacent to I-40 and parcels of land that would become Hub RTP were acquired in late 2013, including one parcel that now former CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation Bob Geolas called a “Christmas miracle.”
At the time, Geolas referred to the future site as “Park Central,” and noted that the acquisition of the land aligned with the organization’s strategic plan that was formed in 2012.
Planning for Boxyard RTP began in 2018, said Weston, and the project is modeled after one in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“We were especially inspired by the capacity of this kind of structure to serve as both an entry point for locally grown businesses as well as a creative event and gathering space,” said Weston.
The project broke ground in August 2019, and was slated to open in 2020, but the opening was delayed due to concerns surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic.
“Boxyard RTP is our first step into creating a community in the Park, one where folks can brainstorm over a cup of coffee or post-work beer, find a uniquely local gift, and a central location to meet up with a friend who lives on the other side of the Triangle,” said Weston. Dogs are also welcome in the community space, she added.
The project concept was quickly validated by local businesses, said Weston, including two that would become anchor tenants: Fullsteam Brewery, which will open its second location in Boxyard RTP, and Lawrence Barbecue. The space will also include the “PopBox,” which will host a rotating group of businesses.
Interestingly, noted Weston, the project is designed, intentionally, to be a loss-leader.
“We chose lease terms that are very favorable in relation to other retail locations,” she said, noting that there will not be a common area maintenance fee assessed to any of the Boxyard RTP tenants, though the facility will provide security, a day porter, maintenance, and restroom cleaning at no charge to any tenants.
Further, the Research Triangle Foundation will spend roughly $250,000 annually from its own budget to provide programming at the facility, which is a decision designed to foster and cultivate community.
“We intentionally are operating as a loss leader for their success; this will not be a profitable project for us, so that it can be for our tenants,” said Weston.
It’s going to be an in-demand venue, said Weston, noting that some of the more than 300 companies that operate buildings in Research Triangle Park have been tracking whether and when Boxyard RTP would open as a part of their planning process.
“Having amenities like food, outdoor space and activities to participate in are all really important to their employees,” said Weston. “Boxyard and Frontier offer free WiFi and a great vibe for anyone who would like to meet in person and work during this time of transition, whether their company is based in RTP or not.”
Pre-pandemic, Weston said, there were more than 55,000 employees in Research Triangle Park, and exactly zero coffee shops. That’s changing, as Beyú Caffè will open a location at Boxyard RTP. Despite the lack of a central retail and restaurant location, the events hosted by the Foundation would draw as many as 300 people each time, said Weston, noting that people do want a place to gather during or after their work day.
40 of 41 containers are leased, and tenants will be opening their businesses throughout the summer, with Lawrence Barbecue, Medicine Mama’s, Buzzy Bakes, and Thirteen West opening Saturday, June 5, and the remaining tenants opening later in the summer.
In-person events will be occurring at Boxyard RTP as well, said Weston, including three weekly music-related events. A lunchtime event on Thursday will feature an acoustic concert, an open jam session on Friday nights, and Sundaze, which is a live DJ set during brunch hours on Sundays. Other knock-on events or gatherings, like run clubs, trivia nights, fitness classes, and more, will be added in the future as well.