For Coleman Team it wasn’t an easy decision. It was the only decision that really made any sense.
Standing on the corner of Fourth Street and N. Patterson Avenue a little over a year ago, Team could see the future laid out in front of him. Not that it was that hard. Looking in three different directions, he could already see the future happening.
On one side, to the south, what locals call “the Krankies block.” Once simply a hotspot for coffee addicts, now bustling with new activity in the form of a salon, new bar and an expanded menu at Krankies that brings people in for more than a cup of morning joe.
To the west, the old Reynolds building, now embracing its second life as the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel and private residences.
To the northeast, Bailey Park, once part parking lot, power substation and credit union, now the heart of the Innovation Quarter. Just past the park, the next generation of physicians and engineers, taking classes in Wake Downtown and Wake Forest School of Medicine.
It wasn’t an “aha” moment for Team. It was a no-brainer moment. Winston-Salem was in the very process of tipping the scales toward its own redefinition.
And he wanted to be a part of it.
For Team, finishing out the redevelopment of the Bailey Power Plant block is more than just a work project. It’s emblematic of his life’s passion to be part of the bringing back to life the city he calls home.
He calls the project “23-1,” a reference to the number that was used to delineate the smaller power plant building on the south end of the block from its newer, much larger counterpart that Wexford Science & Technology completed renovations on in early 2018.
“It’s going to be a destination to experience the energy and culture of the city,” Team, a partner at local development company Front Street Capital and the lead on the Bailey South project, says of the property located at the corner of East Fourth Street and Patterson Avenue. “Winston-Salem in a nutshell.”
It’s an ambitious, optimistic view of the future, considering how much work there is to do on the corner. But to Team, a local with roots in the community, it’s no less than what’s necessary for Winston-Salem to continue its journey to becoming a vibrant hub of technology, innovation and growth.
“This is a chance to build something people will enjoy for generations,” he adds, smiling. “To make sure our kids grow up in a progressive, opportunity-driven town.”
Along with the Morris Building, which sits at the very southwest corner of the property (a project Front Street Capital will undertake next), 23-1 is the last of the historic R.J. Reynolds buildings to be reclaimed under the Innovation Quarter development project. Its time has finally come, and it was worth the wait.
Team says he knew 23-1 had the potential to be a significant project, a new step in the evolution of the Innovation Quarter. But even he wasn’t sure how important the project could be. When he heard Innovation Quarter’s real estate and development leadership was looking for proposals, he eagerly raised his hand.
“We asked them to give us a shot,” he recalls. “Give us 30 days to come back with a vision.”
As a former real estate broker, Team had been involved in Innovation Quarter for more than six years. He’s worked closely with Wexford, and he knows the effort that’s gone into creating the district.
“The amount of time, work and resources it took to create the Innovation Quarter has had the effect of raising the standards for development throughout the city,” says Team, a standard he feels the pressure to uphold.
That’s why Team knew the vision for Bailey South had to be special, so he enlisted the help of Stitch Design Shop, a local architecture firm he says was a perfect choice.
“They’re the same as us [Front Street]. They’re a dynamic group representing the next generation of leadership in Winston Salem’s revitalization,” says Team. “We all see an opportunity to breathe life into this project.”
Pete Fala, a partner at Stitch Design Shop, echoes Team’s excitement for the project. “The building has a character and a story behind it,” he says. He contends the building’s unusual nature is what makes it appealing. “It’s quirky and it’s weird. As an architect you’d never design a building the way it sits. But it’s cool.”
Team, Fala and the rest of the team wanted to be sure they created a vision that reflected the history of the property and the significance of Innovation Quarter. Bailey South is a highly unusual project, the likes of which don’t come around very often.
“We didn’t want to waste it,” says Team. “We wanted to show what we thought Winston-Salem deserves.”
An Urban Center
An elevated railway runs along the west side of the Bailey South property. Perched atop massive concrete arches, it once supplied tons of coal to power the turbines that hummed in the power plant, generating enough energy to power nearly 2 million square feet of manufacturing buildings.
Today, the railway lies silent, decades of wind and weather gradually eroding the arches to reveal parts of their steel rebar skeletons. Where some might see this as a liability and an obstacle to the reconstruction, Team sees it as an asset, central to the vision for the property.
The railway, the familiar smokestacks and several other elements give the property an uncommon character the design team wanted to preserve in the final project. But to make the development truly unique, they had to make a bold decision.
Early in the planning process, Team and his colleagues chose to eschew the federal tax credits that come with designating a project a historic preservation. The design freedom that comes with that decision, he says, is crucial.
“It’s going to be a little funkier than the surrounding buildings,” he says.
Inspired by projects like Manhattan’s Highline, the Bailey Railway will be repurposed into a pedestrian bridge, providing a dramatic entrance to the property. The bridge connecting the building to the elevated railroad trestle allows for “sidewalk” access to the second floor. The impact is two levels of retail rather than one with over 33,000 square feet of retail space in Bailey South.
This raised retail space will overlook the coal pit, a vast courtyard shared by the restaurants occupying the existing Bailey Power Plant building. At street level, facing Patterson Avenue, the property will offer space for two restaurants, complete with patios for outdoor seating.
Once complete, Bailey South will help form a connection between the city and Innovation Quarter, according to Team. Bookended by the “Krankies block” and Bailey Power Plant, Bailey South has the potential to continue to fuel the transformation of Patterson Avenue between Third and Fifth streets into a vibrant social scene.
Team says this space will help bridge that gap. He imagines the block bustling with people well into the evenings and on weekends, relaxing, forming new connections and discussing new ideas that will shape the future.
“It’s going to feel like the new center of this amazing urban community,” he predicts.
One of the last pieces of the puzzle to bring that vision to life will be the tenants who will occupy the retail and restaurant spaces. As with the rest of the project, Team is taking an intentional approach to ensure that the right tenants are selected.
“We want to pick the right tenants, so they complement each other,” he says, favoring upscale soft goods boutiques, with a mix of high-end and casual dining options. “We’re looking for concepts that will raise the standards for shopping and dining the way Innovation Quarter has with professional spaces.”
This vision is what Team pitched to the Innovation Quarter real estate leadership team.
The Next Phase
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the Innovation Quarter is a project decades in the making. Wexford came on as a partner nearly 10 years ago, with Wake Forest Biotech Place opening in 2012, the Inmar building and 525@vine following just two years later.
Back then, only a few hundred workers and a handful of students were here. Now, close to 4,000 people work in the Innovation Quarter, rubbing shoulders with almost 2,000 degree-seeking students.
As development continues, the Innovation Quarter’s vision is to enhance its thriving ecosystem and, by extension, strengthen the innovation ecosystem of the city and region surrounding it.
“To fulfill the vision of the Innovation Quarter and push it into its next phase of development, we need to bolster the ecosystem of the district. Yes, we want to provide modern office and research space, but people will be occupying those spaces and people thrive when there is a vibrant community to explore beyond their office doors,” explains Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the Innovation Quarter. “Bailey South is a symbolic and physical embodiment of the live and play aspects of the Innovation Quarter’s ‘work, live, learn, play’ mantra.”
And it’s not just Innovation Quarter leadership who are getting involved. Wexford Science & Technology, the company behind much of the development of Innovation Quarter, including Bailey Power Plant is doing their part to ensure that Bailey South fulfills its potential—even though it’s not leading the project.
Will Partin, senior director of development for Wexford, says their primary interest is ensuring the two Bailey properties, which sit on the same block, feel like one.
“We want to make sure this development is done in a cohesive way,” says Partin. “When people are on the property, it should feel like a natural connection between the two.”
Wexford has worked closely with Front Street Capital to provide easements necessary for construction and access for future tenants. The company is also consulting on material selection, furniture, signage and branding to tie the projects together.
“These properties have a long and shared history,” says Partin. “We are all excited to see their vibrant and connected future.”
While an out-of-towner might not label it the flashiest building in Winston-Salem’s skyline, Bailey Power Plant nevertheless holds an important place in the city’s history, with its smokestacks having become an icon of the city’s skyline. Located in the center of the city, it literally powered the area’s economy for nearly a century.
As Team’s reconstruction project gives new life to the remaining buildings, the plant may also play a role in shaping the city’s future, particularly in an architectural sense.
“Our approach was to respect its history, but not replicate it,” Fala recounts. “We’re honoring the past, and we’re moving forward.”
That approach gave rise to what is arguably the most dramatic element of the project: a six-story brick-and-glass addition, rising above and wrapping around the back and sides of the original structure.
Contemporary, linear and delicate, the addition will offer a sharp contrast to the weathered, industrial profile of the original structure. For anyone standing in Bailey Park looking west, it will form a striking picture.
Fala and his colleagues at Stitch hope the historic building, embraced on three sides by a gleaming new one, will have an influence on new construction as the Innovation Quarter moves into that next phase.
“It’s a project that respects the buildings that were there, but has an eye to the future,” Fala says. “A thread that connects the city’s past and its future.”
It’s that future that gets Team out of bed every morning, eager to continue moving the Bailey South project forward. As someone who is building a career and raising a family in Winston-Salem, he’s energized by the progress the city has made in such a short amount of time.
“This used to be a city of opportunity,” he says, referring to the long-gone heyday of the tobacco industry. “Things are happening here that are taking this community to its next chapter.”
The Bailey South project is a chance for Front Street, Stitch, Wexford and everyone involved to impact that future, to help spur along the transformation of the city they love.
“This project continues the work that a lot have people have done here,” Team says.
Always the optimist, Team believes Bailey South represents a bright future for the city of Winston-Salem.
A future that’s unfolding before our very eyes.