HQ Raleigh picks renovated strip mall for its next expansion

HQ Raleigh said it will be opening a new location at the Gateway Plaza shopping center, a strip mall that is undergoing a significant renovation.
HQ Raleigh said it will be opening a new location at the Gateway Plaza shopping center, a strip mall that is undergoing a significant renovation.

The rejuvenation of the Gateway Plaza shopping center off Capital Boulevard is getting a big shot in the arm.

HQ Raleigh — the city’s largest co-working operator and startup hub — will become the shopping center’s anchor tenant, with a new space planned to open there this summer, Loden Properties said Monday.

The new HQ Raleigh space, which will be called HQ@Gateway, will take up 20,000 square feet of the nearly 80,000-square-foot shopping center. Beyond flexible office space, it will include a 150-person event space and a 50-person classroom.

“We’re thrilled to add this exciting new project to HQ Raleigh’s portfolio of community spaces,” HQ Raleigh Founding Partner Jason Widen said in a statement. “The unique space allows us to accommodate larger teams of up to 60 employees as well as support entrepreneurs coming in from other parts of the city who need ample parking and convenience.”

HQ Raleigh said it chose Gateway because of its proximity to neighborhoods north of downtown, a part of town that it does not currently have a presence. This will be the fourth location for HQ Raleigh, which started in 2012. The company currently has two locations in downtown and recently opened space at N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus.

However, the future of its main location in the Warehouse District could be changing drastically, as the owners of the property have asked for permission from the city to build up to 20 stories there. HQ Raleigh said it will still be located in any potential new development on South Harrington Street in the Warehouse District.

Located at 2409 Crabtree Blvd., Gateway Plaza is just off Capital Boulevard north of downtown Raleigh — a part of town that has seen increasing interest from young families and real estate investors.

Before renovations started, the 6.8-acre shopping center was once home to Cause for Paws thrift shop, several hair salons, a pawn shop and a laundromat. It’s bordered by a Greyhound bus station, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and several neighborhoods.

Loden Properties bought the aging shopping center in 2016 and began renovating it last year. The strip mall is still under construction right now, with extensive work being done to its parking lot and the building’s facade. Most of that construction should be finished in June, said Loden partner Henry Ward, though he noted that weather has already delayed them this winter.

Loden has been active in rehabbing old properties throughout Raleigh in the past few years. The company is also in the process of turning the former downtown Days Inn motor lodge into a boutique hotel called the Longleaf Hotel and previously turned a bowling alley on Hillsborough Street into a small-format Target. Loden sold the Target property for more than $7 million in January.

Ward said he was excited about the mix of tenants that have leased space at Gateway. Beyond HQ Raleigh, the shopping center has attracted a host of local tenants and is now 75 percent leased.

Ward added that because the location offers an urban feel but with rents lower than downtown, it can be an attractive area for smaller, Raleigh-based retailers.

“This is not the location for national tenants, but it is an ideal location for local folks that want a presence that feels very urban and is close to downtown,” Ward said in an interview. “It is a very curated, hand-selected mix of folks we have long relationships with.”

Tenants that have committed to leasing space at Gateway include:

Union Special, a new bakery run by the baker behind the bread at all of chef Ashley Christensen’s restaurants. It is expected to open this summer.

Brew Coffee, a Raleigh-based coffee shop that has a shop at Seaboard Station. This would be the third location for the coffee shop, which also serves alcohol in the evening, and should open this summer.

Craft Habit, a store and workshop for DIY crafters.

Mordecai Beverage Co., a small brew pub that will open this summer.

Little Makers Academy, a childcare provider.

Gateway Arts Project, a studio and gallery that will offer rotating artist-in-residence space.

Carmen’s Fashions, a retailer of Latino and Hispanic formal wear.

Azure Violins, a violin maker and instructor shop.

Gateway Restaurant, the owners of the longstanding restaurant say they plan on staying at Gateway Plaza.

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.