Duke I&E Bullpen lobby

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We're calling it: 2015 was the year of the startup space. The Triangle area saw an explosion of new spaces open over the last 12 months, and plans already taking shape for at least three more in 2016.

American Underground and HQ Raleigh, the region's largest startup communities, have been vocal about their challenges in expanding. Demand for more space continues, while the prices of real estate go up around them. And yet, the Triangle remains one of the least expensive places to lease space in the nation.

Both the cost of operating a business and the strength of the startup community helps to explain why companies like WillowTree Apps, Avalara, Queue Software and Cultures for Health have either moved to the Triangle or expanded their offices here. Most startup community leaders expect even more moves to the Triangle to occur as the region's profile elevates nationally.

With all of these new spaces, and more to come, hopefully the Triangle will be able to balance the supply with demand and keep its affordability while doing so. Check out our recap of the spaces that opened in 2015 (and more to come).

The Frontier opens

It all started in January, when RTP opened its experimental free coworking space called The Frontier in an area that will eventually be part of its Park Center redevelopment. Open to anyone in the Triangle, the bottom floor of the building includes a variety of types of desks and meeting space, along with free coffee and frequent happy hours, as well as a community garden, food truck rodeos and all sorts of public events.

On the upper floors, freelancers and small companies have filled the available office space and construction is underway on more private offices as well as a large space for the new North Carolina Open Newsroom Cooperative, a sort of incubator for media innovators. That's scheduled to open near the end of the first quarter of 2016.

Visit The Frontier on any weekday, and nearly every couch, chair and table will be occupied. It's safe to say this space has filled a void for free and convenient community gathering space in the Triangle.

RTP Frontier community garden
RTP's The Frontier building includes a community garden.

The Frontier at RTP
RTP's The Frontier opened in January 2015 and has become a bustling place for entrepreneurs, freelancers and creatives to work. Credit: RTP

Credit: Research Triangle Park Foundation

AU@Main expands

In February, the larger startup teams in American Underground's Main Street campus in Durham began to move to two upper floors that were renovated into small offices.

Other additions to the new space include a room for nursing mothers, a Little Library contributed by a startup team, an outdoor fire pit and ping pong table, along with a rooftop patio and adjacent Google-themed bar. There were more call rooms and conference rooms too. 

And within weeks, those spaces were full and plans took shape for another expansion. More on that below. But here's the slideshow we created when the space opened, as well as some shots of events on the patio since then. 

HQ Raleigh Annex

Also in February, HQ Raleigh announced plans to build a second building just behind its existing space in downtown Raleigh's warehouse district. But citing a need for more space immediately, it also leased space for an annex building across Harrington Street for some of its growing teams, like WedPics and Vital Plan. Up to 10 companies can operate there while construction continues on the HQ expansion. More on those plans below. 

Perch Studios moves, expands

Carrboro's only co-working space more than doubled in size with a June expansion into a building with tenants like Steel String Brewery and the Glasshalfull wine bar. The two-year-old community counted more than 30 members after the expansion, with a tenant list of artists, freelancers, business people, remote workers and more. 

Perch Studios in Carrboro 2
Perch Studios is located at 204 W. Main Street in Carrboro, next to Steel String Brewery.

Nido Durham opens

Billed as the Southeast's first coworking space that includes childcare, Nido in downtown Durham is focused on working parents who'd like a part-time option for both working and caregiving. The space has Montessori classrooms for infants and toddlers, in addition to clean upscale workspace for adults.  

All of the pricing at Nido is for half-days and includes childcare as well as conference room time, yoga classes and happy hours. There's a nominal fee to add a parent too. Nido exemplifies the Triangle's reputation as a place to raise a family and start a company. 

NIdo Durham
Nido is the only coworking space in the Southeast that includes childcare and Montessori education for those kids. Credit: Nido

iNvictus Office Center opens

A team of eight local entrepreneurs were inspired by the co-working movement and frustrated at the alarming figures that minority-owned businesses fail at faster rates than majority-owned ones. They created a hub of minority entrepreneurship meant to train and nurture businesses so they have a better chance at success. Located on the third floor of 601 Fayetteville Street in downtown Durham, and opened June 30, iNvictus has 6,000 square feet for co-working, classrooms, conference rooms, phonebooths and events. 

iNvictus prices start at $25 for a day pass and range from $200 to $825 per month for coworking or an office.

iNvictus Office Center

iNvictus Office Center 2
iNvictus Office Center is located at 601 Fayetteville Street in downtown Durham. Credit: iNvictus

107 Fayetteville opens

As local angel investor and O2 Fitness owner Michael Olander Jr. grew his portfolio of startup investments, he heard a similar refrain from each: There's no affordable office space in downtown Raleigh when companies graduate from campuses like American Underground and HQ Raleigh. 

So he began to renovate a five-story building near the Capitol building to house portfolio companies like Photofy and FilterEasy, as well as others, like 6Fusion and Distil Networks. It opened in July 2015.

Michael Olander building in downtown Raleigh
Angel investor and entrepreneur Michael Olander Jr. renovated this building just steps from Raleigh's Capitol building for five startup companies in 2015.

Cary Cofounders Lab opens

With help from the Town of Cary, Cofounders Capital marked the launch of its first fund with the opening of an office space and free lab in the heart of downtown Cary in July. Managing partner David Gardner, as well as partners Alex Osadzinski and Whitney Rowe provide free space and  business assistance to entrepreneurs who work in the space. The office is located in the Cary Theater building.

Cary Cofounders Lab

Cofounders Capital at Cary Theatre
Cofounders Capital's offices and Cary lab are based on an upper floor in the Cary Theatre building.

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship opens the "Bullpen" 

In a move that got the attention of Governor Pat McCrory earlier in 2015, Duke University in August moved its hub of innovation and entrepreneurship off campus and into downtown Durham's emerging Innovation District. Spanning a floor in an old tobacco warehouse, Duke I&E offers space for students to work and meet and off-campus classes and community events to be held. There are offices for the growing Duke I&E staff as well as the new Duke Angel Network and Innovation Fund. 

The Duke space is meant to bridge a gap between student and community entrepreneurship, which will take time. But it's within walking distance of American Underground and the American Tobacco Campus, so you can expect there will be an increasing number of community events there over time. The Duke Angel Network has already made several local investments as well. 

Duke I&E Bullpen
The Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship "Bullpen" opened in August in an old factory in downtown Durham.
Watch construction happen in downtown Durham's Imperial Building, where Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship moved this summer. Credit: Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Duke I&E New Offices
Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship will move its staff and operations to The Imperial Building at 215 Morris Street.

Industrious moves to town

This move is significant because it marks the first national coworking chain to pay attention to North Carolina's emerging startup scene. Industrious is a Chicago-based company that is venture-backed and opening co-working spaces in emerging tech hubs across the U.S. The new space in Raleigh, which opened in November in the Charter Square building, marks its ninth space. 

During a recent visit to Industrious, about half the offices were occupied, most of the furniture had been delivered and set up, and Panera pastries and coffee was being served. Some of the perks of the space are its more upscale furnishings, free snacks and beverages and special events. It also has an amazing view of downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville Street. Some of the tenants include startups Vital Plan, Totalcast and Exit Intel, as well as creative agency Adena Studios.

Charter Square Industrious View
Industrious overlooks Fayetteville Street to the northwest.
Industrious Raleigh lounge
Industrious Raleigh includes lounge areas like this amidst the offices, coworking and kitchen space.

Industrious in Charter Square

Coming in 2016:


Windsor Circle has already moved its 75+ workers onto the top two floors of a building American Underground is renovating at the corner of Main and Market streets in downtown Durham. Once the tallest tower in North Carolina, the historic Trust building is being converted to a space for growing startup teams as well as a Runaway Clothing retail store and art gallery, Beatmaking Lab and office for the Downtown Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. Construction is on schedule and should be complete for a February opening. 

The building is expected to meet a critical need for space for teams of five to 10 workers. There will be 25 offices open to them, as well as access to all the amenities across the street in the Main Street campus.

Durham Historic Trust Building
The historic Trust building in downtown Durham is being renovated into a third American Underground campus and home to Windsor Circle and the Durham CVB.

Holly Springs coworking

The Town of Holly Springs is making space available for coworking in 2016, as long as an operator can be identified to run it. According to The News and Observer, the town south of Cary between Apex and Fuquay Varina has approved the creation of an entity where the police department previously operated. The town will provide up to $50,000 to an operator, who will be responsible for the design and operation of the space. Requirements are that this company or person provide programming for tenants and entrepreneurs in the community, in addition to affordable and flexible rates. 

Loading Dock Raleigh

Much anticipated in Raleigh next year is the grand opening of the first space targeted to maker and sustainable entrepreneurs (though its open to anyone). Opening the space is the founder of Murphy's Naturals, the all-natural mosquito repellent company, who will move to the building and both manufacture and ship products there.

A December tour showed construction underway on two floors of the building, which used to be a distribution facility for Winn-Dixie. Besides the typical kitchen, private offices, coworking space and conference rooms, there will be an outdoor patio, a co-working library and the potential for manufacturing or production space. Loading Dock is recruiting its initial 25 members now. Part-time co-working starts at $99 and full time, at $275 per month.

Loading Dock Raleigh plans
These floor plans should give a good idea of what to expect when Loading Dock Raleigh opens on two floors in an old Winn-Dixie warehouse in March 2016.
Loading Dock Raleigh inside construction
Loading Dock Raleigh will feature a kitchen, bar and coworking tables in this room, just inside the main entrance.
Loading Dock Raleigh
Loading Dock Raleigh will open in March in an old Winn-Dixie warehouse in Raleigh's Five Points area just north of downtown Raleigh.

Coming in 2017:

HQ Raleigh on West Street

Demolition on an old furniture warehouse on the site of the coming HQ Raleigh expansion began in November. Just before that, the startup campus unveiled plans for a five-story building that can allow well beyond the 145 companies in an existing 20,000 square feet on South Harrington Street.

HQ Raleigh hasn't announced a specific opening date, but expects it to happen sometime in 2017.