The Scrap Exchange has leased 55,000 square feet of the northern portion of Lakewood Shopping Center and is seeking tenants for the remaining 30,000 square feet by May 31, the organization announced this week. Leasing the full space will allow The Scrap Exchange to begin the next phase of its planned Reuse Arts District.
Last year, The Scrap Exchange secured a short-term loan from the North Carolina Community Development Initiative Fund to purchase the northern part of the shopping center, which is about 85,000 square feet. In 2014, The Scrap Exchange moved into the space that had been the Centre Theatre and Duke Surplus store, which is now the nonprofit organization’s permanent home. With the purchase of the northern part of the shopping center, The Scrap Exchange also announced plans for the Reuse Arts District, which in future years would include art studios, affordable housing, a shipping container mall and other uses.
“We’re already making steps toward that vision,” said Diana Shark, marketing and special events coordinator for The Scrap Exchange. To make the May 31 date, officials with the non-profit are reaching out to organizations and businesses. “The space is a lot more affordable than in other areas of Durham, and we’re willing to work” with potential tenants to come up with “terms that are fair to them and fair to us,” Shark said. The businesses do not have to be recycling or creative reuse businesses, but Scrap Exchange is looking for “people who believe in community,” she said.
A stable collection of paying tenants will bring more traffic to the shopping center, and allow The Scrap Exchange to implement other parts of the Reuse Arts District, Shark said.
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The Scrap Exchange is seeking to redevelop the Lakewood area without driving out the people who live there, one of the pitfalls of neighborhood improvement. The shopping center already is facing pressure from potential developers, particularly the southern part, which includes Food Lion and several other businesses. (The Scrap Exchange does not own that part of the shopping center.) In a proposed op-ed piece to The Herald-Sun, Ann Woodward, executive director of The Scrap Exchange, stated that she had “recently received a call about this half possibly being bought, razed and replaced by high-rise apartments or some kind of high-end ‘multi-use’ development.”
To beat the rush, The Scrap Exchange wants to ensure that the first phase of its vision is in place. “It’s imperative that we get those spaces filled because we’re less vulnerable to a developer who could come in here and take the whole thing,” Shark said.
El Centro Hispano and Making Choices Inc., both non-profit organizations, rent space in the northern part of the shopping center. The Scrap Exchange also plans to open an 18,000-square-foot thrift store in the shopping center (the thrift store is part of the 55,000 square feet that have tenant commitments). That store would sell books, clothing and household items that the organization recently added to its store, Shark said. Moving those items will allow The Scrap Exchange to devote more space in its store to maker spaces, and other spaces envisioned in the proposed Reuse Arts District, she said.
Once all of the space gets rented, The Scrap Exchange will begin raising money for the next phase of the Reuse Arts District, a press release stated. The Scrap Exchange wants to make a public announcement about new tenants during the summer. “We’re very hopeful” that the organization can reach its goal, Shark said. The renting of 55,000 square feet thus far “shows that there is an interest in the growing revitalization.”