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The Daily Tar Heel

Office space leaves room for growth in Chapel Hill

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, Tuesday's front page story "Office space leaves room for growth" incorrectly stated the address for Keona Health. The business is located at 100 Europa Drive, suite 390 in Chapel Hill. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

According to the Chapel Hill Department of Economic Development, more than 900,000 square feet of approved office space exists in Chapel Hill.

Approved but not-yet-built development projects contain most of that space, Chapel Hill economic development officer Dwight Bassett said in an email.

In downtown, 123 W. Franklin St., the current location of University Square, will offer up 150,000 square feet of available office space.

The Glen Lennox development at the intersection of U.S. 15-501 and N.C. 54 will offer 600,000 square feet. Earlier this year, a plan was also approved to reconstruct the area at the intersection of Ephesus Church Road and Fordham Boulevard, adding 200,000 square feet of office space in new developments.

Bassett said 200,000 square feet of the empty office space already exists. He said the town’s goal is to lower the vacancy rate of available space from 12.7 percent to 10 percent.

Jim Kitchen, founder of business incubator 1789 Venture Lab and mentor at Launch Chapel Hill, said it is important to have available office space to keep local startups in the area.

“Our goal in general is not only to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chapel Hill, but also to retain some of those ventures that before now would have created, seeded and expanded in Chapel Hill and then left and gone on to RTP or Durham or Raleigh, et cetera,” Kitchen said.

Oakkar Oakkar, chief executive officer of Keona Health — a business providing health care companies with software that allows patients to communicate directly with health care professionals online — said after six months of working with Launch Chapel Hill, the company was already outgrowing the incubator program, and he and his co-workers had to start looking for an office space of their own.

Oakkar said they explored options in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Raleigh and Durham and eventually settled on their current location at  100 Europa Drive  in Chapel Hill.

“I wouldn’t say there’s an abundance of space, but there is enough space for people who really want to stay here, and I think you also have to know the right people,” Oakkar said.

Oakkar said the abundance of approved office space in Chapel Hill is an opportunity for the town.

“I think it’s a good thing if we have more companies coming here and coming out of UNC, and if Launch has a bunch of companies coming out of it, too,” Oakkar said.

“If they do well, they need a place to actually grow, so I think it’s a really good thing.”

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