RALEIGH – It has been over 20 years since Ven Poole and Todd Saieed first purchased 20 acres of land just a mile east of North Hills and through the woods of St. Albans Dr. Since then, the partners of DeWitt Carolinas, Inc. have acquired an additional 20 acres and patiently weathered through two economic recessions while envisioning what could be created.
On September 22, the team finally broke ground on 1000 Social, the first of two twelve-story office towers going up at its 40-acre, billion-dollar project, The Exchange Raleigh. In doing so, they have embarked on an ambitious development venture that is poised to change the Raleigh skyline forever.
The impressive 1000 Social, with its 333,000 square feet of class-A office space, 20,000 square feet of retail, and 5,000 square feet of conference and meeting centers, is just one of the many construction endeavors set to take place at The Exchange. Eventually, this first tower will be connected to its twin sister, 2000 Social, by an elevated pedestrian skybridge and park, detailed with a pantheon-inspired oculus.
“With 1000 Social, we’re bringing something new to the table when it comes to office space in the Triangle. We’re putting our money where our mouth is and prioritizing health and wellness by designing the building to earn the first WELL certification in the area upon completion,” said Saieed, Dewitt’s CEO. “We’re also incorporating state-of-the-art technology, abundant outdoor workspaces with a seamless flow from indoors to out, and future-forward design to create the workplace of the future. This is a building—and a place—that will make people excited to come back to the office again, and we expect it to attract the very best organizations and people from across the state and across the nation.”
When it is all said and done, The Exchange Raleigh will not only be home to the aforementioned twin office towers, but also an array of residential buildings, retail and dining options, exercise studios, a hotel, and a four-acre park, which will include an interactive water feature that will traverse the entire community.
It goes without saying that the groundbreaking of Dewitt’s new project in the Midtown Raleigh area is a momentous occasion for the city. It is also a significant milestone in the family history between the Saieeds and the Pooles – a relationship spanning three generations.
The Exchange is a rarity in the world of commercial real estate – a local effort led by local families. Poole and Saieed are acutely aware of the pressure to create something that betters the lives of the people who live in Raleigh.
“We love this city, we’ve got a deep history here, and that’s the driving force behind everything we’re doing at The Exchange Raleigh. We’re not going to cut and run if the going gets tough,” explained Poole, senior partner of DeWitt. “This is our legacy project, and the idea of our grandchildren playing here, living here, or working here one day is a powerful motivator to get this right.”
Poole’s parents, Lonnie and Carol Lynn, first met in the late 1950s while attending college in Raleigh, thanks to an introduction on behalf of Saieed’s father, Tom. As children, Poole and Saieed attended the same schools, went on family vacations with one another, and watched their fathers do business together, though Lonnie and Tom never partnered directly.
Saieed shared that the two partners grew up in the North Hills area, now generally referred to as Midtown. Poole, on the other hand, had the exact figures stating, “Todd grew up right over there on Converse Drive. It’s 3,637 feet from [The Exchange]. And I grew up a little further west on Macon Place. That’s 7,874 feet from here.”
As active business leaders in the Raleigh community, Poole and Saieed have had front-row seats to the massive growth the city has experienced. With more growth to come, the business partners want to ensure that the spirit of the city they grew up in is preserved.
“We know that growth can bring some anxiety, but we’ve involved community stakeholders throughout the design process and worked hard to craft a vision and a masterplan that will benefit the entire Raleigh community,” Saieed assures skeptics. “Preserving the trees whenever possible and dedicating over 7 acres of greenspace throughout the development is just part of our commitment to this new vision for Raleigh.”
The DeWitt team was active with the Citizens Advisory Council (CAC), to ensure the neighbors within the Midtown community had a say in what will become of their neighborhood. DeWitt also received a full endorsement of the Exchange Raleigh project from the council.
“There is something special going on here, and something different going on here,” said Raleigh city councilman Patrick Buffkin, who attended the project announcement.
“How many groundbreakings have you been to that young children were at and the project owner’s parents showed up? There is something special about this team; how they do business, how they work with the community, and how they partner with the city. They turned the development process inside out, they invited the community to come in, and they started with ‘how can we address your concerns and your problems?’”
“This is a project that we are proud of,” says Poole. “And we hope our neighbors will be proud of us too.”