East: (Good) night on the town

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By Kevin Maurer

James Goodnight, son of the richest man in North Carolina, is buying a bunch of Wilmington real estate with an eye toward helping make the city more attractive to businesses.

“Look at it from a real-estate perspective. We felt that Wilmington had some opportunities to add value, and that is through preservation of older buildings and community building,” says Brian Wallace of York Properties, which represented Goodnight in his purchases.

Since 2008, the son of SAS Institute co-founder Jim Goodnight, 73, has bought and renovated commercial buildings in Raleigh and Wilmington. He has spent more than $3 million on four buildings in the Port City, purchasing his latest one in April. Three are on Front Street, downtown Wilmington’s main thoroughfare running parallel to the Cape Fear River, which sports more than a dozen restaurants, bars and shops.

Goodnight’s most recent addition is 9 South Front St., an 1899 building that housed a restaurant, Caffe Phoenix, for 23 years. A new restaurant will occupy the first floor, and the second floor will likely be offices, according to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. Meetinghouse Properties, a limited liability company associated with Goodnight, paid $1.84 million for the building in March, property records show.

Goodnight renovated a former nightclub at 21 S. Front St. last year for the corporate office of Next Glass, a Wilmington-based software company. Real-estate records show Meetinghouse paid $675,000 for the property, which is now appraised at about $470,000. He considered keeping the bar, but because of structural issues, renovating the entire building made more sense.

“I love a good dive bar, but I think increasing the daytime traffic with a young and energetic workforce will be good for everybody,” Goodnight says. “A rising tide raises all ships.”

Downtown Wilmington lacks daytime activity because Front Street is geared to tourists and diners rather than office workers. Last year’s renovation for Next Glass fits into Goodnight’s community building, Wallace says.

Goodnight, 34, envisions downtown Wilmington becoming a destination for tech startups and businesses looking for office space in an urban setting, says Terry Espy, president of the Downtown Business Alliance. She’s been waiting for a developer like Goodnight, whose father is worth $8.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine. (Jim Goodnight also has two daughters who both work at SAS.)

“That is what makes a downtown vital,” Espy says. “People work and live there and spend money. It’s a weak market when you’re solely relying on nightlife and tourists. We’ve lacked the downtown workforce.”


HALIFAX COUNTY — Swelect Energy Systems will invest $4.7 million and hire 155 workers over five years at a manufacturing site for solar equipment and adjacent solar farm. The India-based company has installed more than 1,700 solar farms since it was started in 1983. The company could receive a state grant of up to $600,000 if
it meets hiring and investment goals.

GREENVILLE — Mayne Pharma received FDA approval for its generic alternative to Tikosyn, a treatment for irregular heartbeat. The company, previously Metrics Contract Services until Mayne acquired it in 2012, last year began an expansion of its local plant, investing $65 million and adding 110 workers by 2020.

WILMINGTON — Connie Majure-Rhett stepped down as president of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce after 22 years leading the organization. Majure-Rhett, 63, said she was leaving for family reasons. Her replacement has not been named.

KENANSVILLE — Duke Energy entered into an agreement to purchase methane gas derived from swine waste at Smithfield Foods’ local pork operations. The gas will be treated and used at the Charlotte-based utility’s power plants in Wayne and New Hanover counties. It’s the second agreement Duke has signed this year to buy power made from swine waste.

FAYETTEVILLE — Rodney Anderson resigned as president of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber after six months on the job. Darsweil Rogers, chairman of the Fayetteville Public Works Commission, was named interim president.

MOREHEAD CITY — North Carolina received approval for two new interstate route names. The corridor for U.S. 70 between here and Interstate 40 will be named Interstate 42. The U.S. 64/17 corridor between Raleigh and the Virginia state line will be called Interstate 87.

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