RTP’s The Frontier is expanding

The Frontier is expanding into a former IBM building.
The Frontier is expanding into a former IBM building. Courtesy of The Frontier

The not-for-profit that manages Research Triangle Park has concluded that its experiment of leasing office space to startups and small business is a success, so much so that it’s expanding the concept.

“It’s not The Frontier building anymore,” said Michael Pittman, vice president of marketing and communications for the Research Triangle Foundation. “It will become The Frontier campus at RTP.”

All of the space that up to now was available for lease at the original Frontier building, which opened in January 2015, is occupied, Pittman said. Hence the expansion.

In the short term, that includes renovating additional space in the original building – nearly 20,000 square feet – that wasn’t tenant-ready as well as expanding to an adjacent 227,000-square-foot building once occupied by IBM. The former space is expected to be ready for occupancy by the end of the year, while the target for the second building is 2017.

The pedestrian bridge that links the two buildings also will get a makeover.

The expansion will include free co-working space available to anyone as well as rooms for meetings and presentations. It also will include “some space to play,” Pittman said. “There will be foosball tables, pool tables and things like that.”

The original Frontier building at 800 Park Office Drive offers free space to anyone as well as individual private offices that can accommodate two people and are fully furnished. Those offices start at $300 a month and come with short-term leases, which are especially attractive for startups that don’t know how big they’ll be in six months or a year.

Space in the second building will cost $18.50 per square foot. Cushman & Wakefield is handling the leasing.

RTP has traditionally been the home of corporate giants, but The Frontier is changing that.

“We want there to be more small and mid-sized companies,” Pittman said. “We don’t want all of our eggs to be in one big corporation’s baskets. ... We want to be diverse.

“We want all of those small startups that could be the next IBM, or the next Facebook or the next GSK or whatever,” he added.

The foundation also has a master plan that calls for expanding The Frontier campus to several other nearby buildings, all of them former IBM buildings, Pittman said.

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii