South Front II

In the 1930’s the Block Shirt factory in Wilmington was the largest manufacturer of shirts in the South, producing over 24,000 shirts a week and employing 350 people. Not only was the owner’s name Block, but the shirt factory was a block long, stretching from Greenfield to Willard Street. When I first walked through the abandoned building seven years after the factory closed, I had no idea what to do with the immense space. The building enclosed over 40,000 square feet. More than an acre under roof.

Then we helped Tribute Company convert a public housing project next door into urban apartments. Once there was a waiting list to get an apartment in South Front, we know what our next act would be. We would fill Block Shirt factory with apartments. Built in four phases, we developed a dozen different apartment types to fit into the building. Some are lofts with big windows. Some are airy flats with walled gardens. But all have the steam punk mix of modern amenities with exposed brick walls and ceiling beams.

Finally, we turned the office into the building community center. Once the Block offices, then Tribute’s headquarters, now belonging to everyone who lives here.