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The Variable takes anchor tenant spot at Bailey Power Plant South
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The Variable takes anchor tenant spot at Bailey Power Plant South

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The planned Bailey Power Plant South project has landed an anchor tenant in local marketing agency The Variable, the developers said Tuesday.

The developer of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, Wexford Science & Technology, sold in June a portion of the plant property and a neighboring building to Winston-Salem commercial real-estate firm Front Street Capital.

Front Street Capital is redeveloping what it referred to as Building 23-1/Bailey South, along with the Morris Building, into nearly 100,000 square feet of office and retail space.

The project, which begins construction in November, would represent a $25 million capital investment. The plan is to add up to 65,000 square feet of new office and retail space to the existing 10,000-square-foot concrete structure of Bailey South for an overall six-story building.

The Variable focuses on business innovation, marketing consulting and advertising services.

The agency will move from downtown neighbor Plant 64, where it has nearly reached capacity for its space. It will occupy 21,500 square feet on the top two floors of Bailey Power Plant South upon completion, which is scheduled for January 2020.

“We can’t imagine a better-suited marquee tenant to anchor our redevelopment of Bailey South,” Coleman Team, with Front Street Capital, said in a statement.

“The Variable is perennially recognized as one of the most innovative and creative agencies in the entire country, and they work with well-known international, national and local companies.

“They are a homegrown, Winston-Salem success story, and their presence will add significantly to the vibrancy of this development.”

Team said the developers have lease commitments for more than 35,000 square feet, but they declined to identify the other tenants.

David Mullen, president and partner at the agency, said besides needed additional space, “we were dead set on finding something that would feed and grow our innovative spirit and creative heart.”

Mullen said the combination of knowing the developer and its construction and architectural plans with Stitch Design Shop, “we knew it would be an incredibly special place for our city. And we wanted our fingerprint to be a part of it.”

Jason Thiel, president of Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, said the new project “within close proximity to historically rehabilitated buildings highlights the positive sense of place created in the Innovation Quarter.”

Wexford acquired the Bailey Power Plant property from the research park after it was donated by Reynolds American Inc. in April 2010.

There are plans to convert the old train trestles, which were used to transport coal into the core power-plant facility, into walkways connecting the campus’ buildings. Landmark Builders is the general contractor for both buildings.

The Bailey South and Morris Building represents the latest update for the Bailey Power Plant campus.

On Feb. 8, the main power plant renovation debuted, representing a $40 million capital investment in an 111,479-square-foot facility that encompasses innovation, entrepreneurship, networking and dining.

It’s an initiative that has Wake Forest Innovation Quarter ranked by Preservation NC as the largest historic redevelopment project of its kind in the state, as well as among the largest involving major innovation districts in the country.

Counting the Bailey plant, the Link Apartments mixed-use project, $106 million Wake Forest BioTech Place, $75 million Inmar Inc. headquarters, and $60 million Plant 64 apartment complex, there is nearly $300 million in capital investment represented at the intersection.

In May, The Variable said it is venturing into the startup-business sector with an early-stage business accelerator known as 100watt.

Officials with the firm said 100watt’s niche is providing commercialization services, such as idea creation, market validation, business-plan creation, brand development, seed-stage execution and fundraising.

rcraver@wsjournal.com 336-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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