Action and activity has returned to the hulking, seven-story, historic Chesterfield building on Main Street in downtown Durham.

Duke University started moving its first wave of research scientists and staffers into the former cigarette manufacturing plant’s newly renovated space in late July. Justin Parker, a developer with the building’s owner, Wexford Science + Technology, says a steady stream of tenants will continue moving in through early 2018.

“It’s pretty spectacular,” he says.

Additionally, Parker confirms that a fourth local company has signed on to relocate its operations into Chesterfield.

Validic, a digital health technology company based in Durham, will be taking about 10,000 square feet on Chesterfield’s sixth floor when the company of about 60 employees relocates later in the year. Validic is currently based on the 12th floor of the Durham Centre office tower on Morgan Street.

Drew Schiller, co-founder and CEO of Validic, says his company is outgrowing its current space and that his staff really wanted to stay in downtown Durham. “Durham has been our home from the start,” he stated in an email about the deal. “We intentionally set roots in Durham because the culture of the city matches the culture of our company. Moving to the Chesterfield gives us the ability to make the space ours and showcases what makes Validic unique. It’s a historic and beautiful facility offering the type of amenities we need to grow and expand.”

Proximity to other health care, life science and tech companies – which has been a focus of tenant recruitment at Chesterfield – was also a priority, Schiller says.

The Validic lease deal brings the building to about 85 percent occupancy. During the building’s construction, Duke expanded its total take to 120,000 square feet, Parker confirms. Nutanix (Nasdaq: NTNX), a California-based digital storage software firm, has leased 70,000 square feet, and BioLab NC will lease 42,000 square feet as a shared lab space model for startup and growing life science companies. The building also has about 11,000 square feet of street-level retail and restaurant space, but Parker says they’re not ready to announce any of the retail deals, yet.

The total project, including a new nearby parking deck to accommodate Chesterfield’s new employee traffic, cost about $128 million.

For many years, Chesterfield had been an inactive and vacant building in a downtown Durham business climate that was bustling with redevelopment opportunities. The building, sold to Wexford in 2013, had been empty since 1999 and was the last of the former Liggett & Myers tobacco company buildings in West Village to be redeveloped.

Robin Anders of NAI Carolantic Realty represented Wexford in the lease negotiations, and Rich Harris of Cushman & Wakefield represented Validic.

Source: Triangle Business Journal | Amanda Hoyle