Coveted space in a development built especially for Charleston's growing technology businesses is changing hands as a solar company expands and a tech accelerator plans to move out.
The Harbor Entrepreneur Center has held several other spots around town since it was formed as a nonprofit in 2014. The center houses a shared workspace for entrepreneurs to use while they grow their companies. It also operates a business accelerator and a coding school.
The Harbor announced it would move to the Pacific Box & Crate development on King Street in 2016. John Osborne, director, said he doesn't know yet where it will go. Osborne said the lease will be up in July.
The Harbor offers its space to about 30 companies, Osborne said, most with fewer than five employees. Even more have access to The Harbor's workspaces.
"We will find another spot," Osborne said. "We need more space for companies to grow into. The last thing we’re going to do is get in the way of a company that needs it."
Palmetto Clean Technology Inc. will take over the space. The terms were finalized this month.
The solar technology company already has an office at 1505 King St., but it needs more space.
Palmetto markets software called Alchemy, which helps sellers of solar technology generate proposals and more.
The company announced in September it had raised $6 million from investors, including former National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern. It also has offices in other cities, including Seattle and Charlotte.
Palmetto CEO Chris Kemper said an expansion into the Harbor's current offices is the result of another, yet-to-be announced funding round. The company plans to add 50 employees over the next couple of quarters, growing the Charleston payroll to about 120, he said.
"It’s a next step for us," Kemper said. "We’re continuing to build our footprint and build the team."
After a major renovation, Upper King Street's Pacific Box & Crate development filled with tenants in 2017. The Harbor was among its first, along with the cybersecurity firm PhishLabs and real estate software maker BoomTown. The Harbor's office is above BoomTown's operations.
The development was built with technology-oriented tenants in mind, but it also has a brewery and a high-end food court. The complex is so full that a golf cart makes loops transporting employees and visitors to a nearby overfill parking lot.
Palmetto's current offices are also at the Pacific Box & Crate complex. It will keep that space.
Stephen Zoukis, a developer with Raven Cliff Co. and the landlord at Pacific Box & Crate, said Palmetto "has been bumping up against the limits for a good while" and that the rest of the 130,000-square-foot former industrial property is leased for several more years.
In general, Charleston lacks large office buildings, Zoukis said, and it has been difficult to meet tenant space needs at times. This can pose a challenge for young tech businesses that can vary in size as they grow, fail or get acquired.