Pictured above left of the post office is the historic Trust Building, circa 1920.
In recent weeks, construction workers began clearing out the five-story historic Trust building at the corner of Market and Main streets and adjacent the new 21c Museum Hotel in the heart of downtown Durham.
They’re painting its 110-year-old exterior ornamentation and prepping its floors, walls and ceilings for the modern and brightly-colored look and feel of its neighbor across the street, the building that houses 215 startup companies and 700 workers and has become known as American Underground @Main.
Klein hopes the larger office spaces will help keep companies a part of the startup community, while continuing to alleviate a major headache for a young and (often unpredictably) growing company—real estate.
Coworking and startup campuses are meant to offer affordable rents and short term leases but with many of the amenities found in class A office spaces so as to attract top talent. But traditionally, startups graduate to longer-term traditional space after they’ve hired several employees, regardless of whether they’re profitable or out of the startup danger zone. The Market campus is another stepping stone to the larger spaces available at American Underground’s sister campuses American Tobacco and DiamondView (overlooking the Durham Bulls Athletic Park), or in other parts of Durham.
The retail concept and creative space for youth are also an evolution of American Underground, which made a goal earlier this year to be the most diverse and inclusive tech hub in the world. That includes training up Durham youth of all races so they see opportunity in technology-oriented fields, and celebrating the history and culture of Durham, a key mission of Runaway through its clothing, art, events and other community activities.
Runaway founder Gabe Goetz said in a news release that “the space gives us an opportunity to sell our own products and showcase the work of local, like-minded artists and musicians” all while continuing to benefit from “the chance to network, gain valuable business insights and free pizza on Wednesdays” through the American Underground relationship.
Besides Windsor Circle, Klein expects a handful of existing startups in American Underground to move to the new building. That will leave space open for startups new to the community either in the Market or Main building (where offices have been 100 percent occupied).
And that all helps move toward that big goal of 500, Klein says: “By scaling deeply—meaning creating more density and connecting with youth earlier—this sets Durham up for a long-term ecosystem and commitment to entrepreneurship.”