Cary News

Developer plans $5 million center with brewery, office space in downtown Cary

Northwoods Associates plans to renovate the Midtown Shopping Center on East Chatham Street and bring a brewery or brewpub to the back warehouse space, developers said in early February. The new space would be called Midtown Square.
Northwoods Associates plans to renovate the Midtown Shopping Center on East Chatham Street and bring a brewery or brewpub to the back warehouse space, developers said in early February. The new space would be called Midtown Square.

Local developers plan to spend an estimated $5 million constructing a new 25,000-square-foot office/retail building and renovating a longstanding retail center in downtown Cary that would be anchored by a brewery or brewpub.

Northwoods Associates LP submitted plans to the Town of Cary to topple the building at 215 East Chatham St., currently occupied by the Flower Cupboard, to erect a three-story brick office space with balconies and one retail tenant.

Next door, the company plans to give the Midtown Shopping Center a new look and name and bring a brewery or brewpub to the warehouse space at the rear of the center, said Jordan Gussenhoven, owner of Chatham Street Commercial, which is half of the Northwoods Associates partnership developing the project. George H. Jordan III Development Co., owned by Gussenhoven’s uncle, George Jordan, is the other partner.

“That’s the anchor of the project,” Gussenhoven said of the brewery. “We’re creating a walkway between the two buildings that will lead to an outdoor beer garden (run by a brewery or brewpub) with roll-up doors.”

Current shopping center tenants – Brentwood Carpets, Capital Vacuum Floor Care World and Just Tires – will not be displaced by the renovations, Gussenhoven said. Their leases will not be affected either, he said.

A fourth tenant, Dorry’s Downtown Deli, closed last summer.

Gussenhoven said he submitted the site plans last week for Midtown Square, which were drawn up by New City Design Group. He expects the Town Council to review them in May. Construction of the new office building and demolition of the Flower Cupboard won’t begin until more tenants have been confirmed, he said. Chatham Street Commercial is handling the day-to-day aspects of the development process and the leasing, Gussenhoven said.

He still needs to get the support of a bank, which likely will decide how many businesses need to commit before construction can begin, he said.

Gussenhoven may not have to look for tenants very long, said Ted Boyd, Cary’s downtown manager.

“People ask us about moving downtown a lot, but we’re often limited in what we can tell them because downtown doesn’t have much when it comes to office space,” Boyd said. “Their proposal would be great for Cary.”

Supply, not demand, is the problem with office space in downtown Cary, said Kyle Greer, vice president of the Cary Chamber of Commerce.

“With little vacancy downtown, it is hard to help new businesses and restaurants locate here as we have few places to put them,” Greer said. “Jordan’s project will give us some great options.”

Downtown revitalization

The shopping center property has been in Gussenhoven’s family for years, he said. His grandfather, George H. Jordan Jr., began building on it in the 1970s.

“We’re committed to downtown,” Gussenhoven said. “We’re drinking the Kool-Aid.”

Northwoods Associates bought the Flower Cupboard building for $560,000 last fall to build on the momentum Cary has created downtown. The Flower Cupboard has tentative plans to vacate the building in April for a space near the intersection of High House Road and Cary Parkway, said John Van Deinse, an owner of the company.

Cary has spent millions of dollars trying to revive its downtown.

A year ago, the town spent $6 million to open The Cary theater just two blocks down from the Northwoods Associates properties. Last February, Fortnight became Cary’s first craft brewery when it opened on SW Maynard Road just west of downtown.

Last summer, the restaurant, Belle, opened on Academy Street in a historic house the town spent $255,000 to renovate.

The town also is backing plans for a boutique hotel on Academy Street. And soon, a beer and bottle shop will open next to The Cary theater after the town completes $225,000 worth of renovations on the space.

The existing presence of craft beer in the area will help a potential brewery – not hurt it, Gussenhoven said. He said he is talking to both existing breweries and startups about occupying the space.

“Breweries don’t conflict,” he said. “In fact, they build on each other and create a great community atmosphere.”

Any competition between Fortnight and a potential brewery would be good for the area, said Stuart Arnold, Fortnight’s owner.

“It would be competition but it would be healthy competition,” Arnold said. “It’ll just make (downtown Cary) more of a destination, hopefully.”