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Real Estate - Commercial

Cargo District Investors Buy Former SDI Construction Office As Builder Pancoe Retires

By Cece Nunn, posted Aug 24, 2021
Cargo District investors purchased 1901 Kent St. in Wilmington, the former home of SDI Construction Inc. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
Investors in Wilmington’s Cargo District recently bought a building with a trailblazing seller, planning to use the property in the formation of "a bookend" to the downtown community known for its new businesses and use of cargo containers.

Cargo District LLC purchased 1901 Kent St. for $620,000 from Beth Pancoe, president of SDI Construction Inc., according to a deed dated Aug. 20.

The 6,000-square-foot building used to be Delgado Presbyterian Church before Pancoe (pictured below) bought it and renovated it into office space for SDI. 

Pancoe, 81, became one of the first licensed female contractors in Eastern North Carolina in 1987 and built a company focused on historic renovations and home construction. She shut SDI Construction down earlier this year and decided to retire after learning in January that she had cancer. 

Fortunately, the cancer, a type of lymphoma, was declared in remission after six months of chemotherapy, Pancoe said. In retirement, she plans on traveling, spending more time at her house on the Black River in Harrells and helping her husband, Walter Pancoe, 97, with the business he still conducts.

SDI Construction's achievements include restoring the exterior of the Temple of Israel, which was built in 1876, at 1 S. Fourth St. in downtown Wilmington, and completely restoring the DuBois-Boatwright House on South Third Street, a structure that dates back to the 1760s.

Beth Pancoe said she is pleased with the former SDI office building's new owners, who have been involved in the Cargo District for several years.  

“I just think they're wonderful, with what they're trying to do and save, and give new life to this section of town because it’s always had a great history,” she said.

The Cargo District encompasses parts of Queen and Castle streets and 15th, 16th and 17th streets. Developed by Leslie Smith of Wilmington, the district's businesses include craft burger eatery Mess Hall, End of Days Distillery, New Town Roastery and Queen Street Barbershop, among many others.

One of Cargo District LLC’s investors, commercial real estate broker Christian Cardamone, said the new owners of the Kent Street property are looking at the best way to maximize its nearly 1-acre lot, possibly incorporating containers like those that have been used throughout the district.

While the property is not within the main Cargo District, Cardamone said, his group is working to bring it into the district fold along with some other properties Smith owns off Wrightsville Avenue.

"Our goal is to make that block the bookend to the Cargo District," he said.

And as for uses for the former SDI office building?

“We're really open to anyone that has a great idea for potentially a brewery with a large outdoor area and some fire pits or some kind of unique outdoor concept event space,” Cardamone said. “Or we might just go into Coworx-style executive office suites and have really nice amenities. Nothing’s set in stone.”

For Cargo District LLC, the purchase was an exchange under Section 1031 of the federal tax code after the investors sold the Coworx building at 1608 Queen St. for $630,000, Cardamone said.

Broker Charlie Rivenbark of Wilmington-based Cape Fear Commercial was the listing agent for 1901 Kent. St.

Cardamone's property management firm, Aloha Wilmington Real Estate, will be in charge of leasing the property, which also has 2,800 square feet of warehouse space and has a commercial service zoning classification.

Cardamone said, “It's just such a unique space and zoning allows you to do so much over there.”
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