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Charleston Tech Center locks in first tenants as completion nears

Charleston Tech Center

The Charleston Tech Center is nearing completion at Morrison Drive and Conroy Street. John McDermott/Staff

With a few months left until the long-awaited opening of the Charleston Tech Center, tenants are lining up with the majority of office space booked up. 

The six-story $54 million development is planned to open later this year on Morrison Drive. It will be accompanied by a parking garage with 812 spaces.

John Hand, managing partner of Iron Bridge Capital, which is the developer, said the hunt is on for tenants to fill the vacancies, and that talks are underway with several Charleston-based technology businesses interested in the space. 

The first two confirmed tenants aren't from the local area. One is only being identified for now as an out-of-state publicly traded software company with offices in Charleston. The other is Insight Global, an Atlanta-based staffing firm that caters mainly to the information technology industry. Each company is taking half of a floor in the building.

The 92,000-square-foot structure at 999 Morrison is being built with the help of federal Opportunity Zone credits that offer tax breaks to developers who invest in designated areas in need of revitalization.

The Charleston Digital Corridor is managing the building. The city gave the tech-oriented nonprofit a long-term lease for $1 a year and a license to develop the land in the so-called NoMo district in 2016.

In return, the city required that the site be developed into "a location from which incubator and established technology businesses could operate so to incentivize the creation of a business technology district," according to the lease. The terms also state that tenants "shall be limited to technology-based businesses."

Project supporters say Insight Global fits the bill. 

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The firm provides IT staffing services primarily to Fortune 1000 businesses. Tech industry veteran Marc Murphy, a Digital Corridor board member and former CEO of locally based Atlatl Software, said the modern definition of technology extends well beyond developers and coders.

"We need to start thinking bigger in this town," Murphy said. "And if you're going to bring in big companies that want to scale, we very much need an ecosystem of talent and recruiting shops."

Hand said Insight Global was a good pick because sourcing and placing talent is a challenge for tech employers, particularly in a small market like Charleston.

"Our thought was, if tenants in our building can go right upstairs and and know their recruiter on a first name, personal basis, it's a great fit," he said.

The Charleston office will be among Insight Global's roughly 50 U.S. satellite locations, according to its website. 

The Digital Corridor will occupy a full floor of the building. The bottom level is reserved for retail space.

To prepare the building for its new tenants during a pandemic, Hand said builders installed an advanced air filtration system for COVID-19 safety purposes. 

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.

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