Colonial Williamsburg offices moving out of Merchants Square

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has announced it will relocate its administrative offices out of the Goodwin Building in the Merchants Square area of downtown as it converts the 30,000-square-foot building into retail space.

Colonial Williamsburg has utilized the Merchants Square office space as its headquarters since 1940, housing the organization’s chief executives and marketing and fundraising departments. Joseph Straw, Colonial Williamsburg’s public relations manager, said the move is part of an effort to “identify the optimum uses of properties that do not directly impact the core mission and guest experience.”

“The Goodwin Building has been home to our primary corporate offices for 78 of Colonial Williamsburg’s 92 years,” said Straw. “Any such change is not taken lightly. Given, however, space available elsewhere, and the building’s potential to generate new revenue in support of our primary mission, this decision was not a difficult one.”

Admistrative staff in the Goodwin Building have been transitioning into the Bruton Heights School building on the Foundation’s Bruton Heights Education Center campus since January. The move is expected to be completed by the first week of June.

Vice President of Real Estate Jeffrey Duncan says the vacant office space and minimal need for construction in the Bruton Heights building made it a prime candidate for the offices.

“It made sense for us to take advantage of that space and consolidate administrative personnel in one location, and at the same time, it gives us an opportunity to add square footage to Merchants Square, which is already a popular cultural center of town with lots of demand for office, retail and restaurant space,” said Duncan.

Previously, the Foundation used the former high school building for training events and to house its Architecutral Engineering and Publications and Learning Ventures departments.

The Foundation is working with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer to secure new tenants to occupy the Goodwin Building, but plans have yet to be finalized.

“We’re looking at a variety of options for the Goodwin Building, it could be offices, it could be retail, it could be residential,” said Duncan. “We’ve got a lot of people that are interested in doing something there, so we’re just weighing all of our options.”

Last month, the organization announced a partnership with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer as its brokerage and leasing agent for all of its holdings in Merchants Square.

“We are honored and excited to be selected by Colonial Williamsburg for this very significant assignment,” said Thalhimer CEO Lee Warfield in a release. “Our goal is to maximize the return of their real estate holdings in support of their mission.”

The decision to convert the Goodwin Building into retail comes as part of the real estate agency’s long-term plan to optimize space available for lease in the commercial center, which features more than 40 shops and restaurants and a total of 255,000 square feet of retail, residential and office space across 10 city blocks.

“One of the things that this allows us to do, besides consolidating staff, is to make the Goodwin Building available to lease out and generate some revenue, which it isn’t today, and that’s always going to be helpful,” said Duncan.

The Goodwin Building will remain in the care of Colonial Williamsburg’s Collections, Conservation and Museums Division, which supports maintenance of its 600 historic structures.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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