RTP unveils new office space - some of it free

The not-for-profit that manages Research Triangle Park has reinvented a five-story building it acquired last year when it acquired the Park Center office complex and two adjacent properties.

The end result is The Frontier, a 142,000-square-foot building that combines free space available to all as well as private office space it is leasing.

It aims to be "a place for people to meet and mix," said Mason Ailstock, vice president of business development for the Research Triangle Foundation.

The free first-floor space - the coffee and Internet are free as well - includes "space for a meeting of 200 people or smaller breakout meetings for two people," said Ailstock. Those who use the 200-person space, which must be reserved in advance, must pay a nominal fee to cover clean-up costs.

Individual private offices that can accommodate two people and are fully furnished are available on the third floor for $300 a month. The leases run month-to-month. More than 10 of the 50-plus offices already have tenants.

The remaining office space is being leased at competitive rates that will enable the foundation to cover costs, Ailstock said.

More than 50,000 square feet already has been leased by tenants that range from startups to The Army Research Office. An additional 20,000-plus-square-feet of space remains available.

The foundation has grand plans to transform the remainder of the nearly 100 acres off Interstate 40 that it acquired last year, but The Frontier isn't a stopgap project.

"This is as permanent as permanent gets," Ailstock said.

That doesn't mean, however, that The Frontier won't evolve.

"Some things will work perfectly and some things won't," Ailstock said. "It's much more of an entrepreneurial spirit for the Research Triangle Foundation."

Although the foundation's plan to reinvent itself includes adding restaurants and coffee shops that would boost RTP's appeal to tenants, Ailstock said the dearth of such amenities hasn't been an issue with prospective tenants so far.

RTP has more than 190 companies employing 40,000-plus employees.