The hit television series “One Tree Hill” may have left a lasting impression in the hearts of Wilmingtonians and worldwide viewers alike, but one thing it will certainly leave the Port City in the coming days is a bigger glut in downtown office space.
More than 16,000-square feet of potential office and retail space will be for the taking as “One Tree Hill” actors, crew members, directors and their cash say farewell to the Port City.
The new vacancies come at a time when greater Wilmington’s commercial real estate sector, while improving, remains sluggish. And moving new tenants into new office space remains challenging as the region tries to pick up the pieces after the Great Recession and real estate crash.
According to Wilmington Downtown Inc. — an organization that works to promote and recruit new businesses to downtown Wilmington — there was 130,000 square-feet of vacant office and retail space downtown reported this summer.
John Hinnant, executive director of WDI, said year-to-date that total has since decreased by 37,000-square feet; however, it doesn’t include space currently being vacated by the “One Tree Hill” production.
“We are beginning to see a lot of start-up growth here,” Hinnant said. “Our concerns are people in professional services — the engineers, landscapers and designers — who have suffered because of the recession. They may have had an office downtown and now they work from home because they can’t afford to rent office space.”
Hinnant said despite the pending vacancies, occupancy of many of the ground-level properties is growing in occupancy.
“It’s getting people in the floors above those spaces that’s going to take a little more time,” he said.