Upgrades on the way for underutilized office building in downtown

November 23rd 2016

A prominent but underutilized office building near downtown Spartanburg’s eastern gateway will soon receive some cosmetic and mechanical upgrades as part of its owner’s plan to reposition it for growth.

The four-story, nearly 87,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1988 by Southwind Ltd. of Columbia. It was originally called Nations Plaza.

Spartanburg-based Johnson Development Associates purchased the building in 2012 via foreclosure sale. It is currently referred to as International Center or the Wells Fargo Building, but it will soon be rebranded as 101 N. Pine.

“There is a rumor that we are running out of office space in downtown,” said Geordy Johnson, CEO of Johnson Development. “Clearly, that is not the case… It’s part of our core mission to create white-collar jobs and be good corporate citizens. This is a building that was purchased during a downturn by Foster Chapman and my dad. We think we can reposition it and create a good revenue stream for our business and have a positive impact on the community.”

South Carolina National Bank was one of the building’s first anchor tenants. The bank later merged with Wachovia Corp., which was purchased by Wells Fargo in 2008.

Wells Fargo’s main Spartanburg branch is still in the building along with a few other tenants, but there is still about 35,000 square feet available, including suites that range from 1,500 to 12,000 square feet, according to Johnson Development.

The Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce is headquartered in a building beside 101 N. Pine at the corner of North Pine and East St. John streets.

Both buildings share a large parking lot that has access points along Oakland Avenue and the southbound lane of North Pine Street between East Main and East St. John streets.

Claudia Albergotti, director of marketing for Johnson Development, and Samantha Nicholson, the company’s development manager, are helping to lead effort to reposition the building.

Nicholson said plans for the building are still being formulated, but they will include an investment to give the Class B space a more Class A feel, while keeping rents affordable.

Johnson and Nicholson said the property has a variety of options for companies that range from startups with small space requirements, medium-sized companies that need 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, and companies with larger space requirements, such as a call center.

The building’s windows allow natural light to spill in from all sides and provide views of downtown Spartanburg, Converse College, the Blue Ridge Mountains and other points of interest in the city’s skyline.

Johnson said the building is close to several local colleges, and two state highways and provides tenants with a direct shot to Interstate 85. It is also within walking distance of several local restaurants.

Its physical location is also important because it could help enhance downtown’s eastern gateway, Johnson said.

“Our focus will be on creating more turnkey suites,” Nicholson said. “We are seeking long-term tenants.”

Nicholson said Johnson Development will begin giving the spaces a more modern look with new paint, tile, fixtures, carpets and artwork. The main lobby of the building will receive some upgrades. Communal spaces throughout the building will sport posh, modern furnishings.

She said rents could range from $13 to $15 per square foot.

Joe Williamson, founder and systems architect for Willdyne Chord, a software company that provides solutions for inventory and supply chain management, said he is excited about the upgrades.

“I’ve been in the building since December 2012,” Williamson said. “The International Center was the best value in the downtown area. I like the fourth floor executive area concept. That provides flexibility as we grow. We are a small company with large corporate clients, so the building’s physical presence and proximity to the chamber gives the right impression of solidity and stability when they visit our offices… I look forward to the improvements that Johnson Development has in the works. I know that some, like mechanical improvements, will be behind the scenes, others quite visible. All will definitely enhance the experience.”

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