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Coworking / Delaware / Media / Real estate

The Mill in Wilmington just expanded. We got a behind-the-scenes tour

The downtown coworking space now occupies two floors, with an outdoor terrace, better acoustics and a state-of-the-art media studio coming soon.

The new downtown Mill staircase. (Courtesy The Mill/Joe Del Tufo)
The vibe at The Mill got weird last fall.

In place of an open entryway to the communal area, leading to dozens of small offices, there was what looked like a giant, floor-to-ceiling cardboard box. It made the usually open coworking space feel oddly claustrophobic.

But it was there for an exciting reason: The Mill’s third-floor expansion at its downtown location in the Nemours building had begun.

The Mill with construction partitions in the middle

The “box.” (Technical.ly/Holly Quinn)

That “box,” really a construction project partition, finally came off in mid-January, revealing a new staircase that connects the building’s fourth floor, which opened as The Mill in 2016, to the third one — a brand new Mill space that will have its official ribbon cutting on Feb. 13. 

The new space is, in many ways, The Mill 2.0. When founder Rob Herrera first designed the fourth floor, it was a marvel: an innovation of office space that had not been quite so fully realized in Wilmington before. It’s still one of the best-looking office spaces in Delaware, and it doesn’t scream mid-2010s. 

But since 2016 and actually running a coworking space, he’s learned a lot, and that’s impacted the design of the third floor. 

The revamped space includes 29 offices for individual companies, communal workspace and new amenities. The biggest changes to the design, Herrera told Technical.ly, have to do with acoustics.

Hardwood floors in conference rooms are out, sound-absorbing carpeting is in. Drop ceilings block overhead pipes that would have been left exposed for their industrial aesthetic. The glass around offices and conference rooms is thicker and has less vibration.

The fourth floor has handcrafted wood conference tables that were designed to double as ping pong tables, making the conference rooms multipurpose. The third floor has its own recreation space where members can hang out and play foosball or cornhole, and the latter can be moved to an outdoor terrace when the weather is nice.

 

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That terrace is one of the biggest features. I toured the space on a particularly snowy day, but it was easy to imagine people hanging outside in the spring, during the workday or at an event in the evening. Some of the offices even have their own slice of terrace as part of their leased space.

That terrace is one of the biggest features. I toured the space on a particularly snowy day, but it was easy to imagine people hanging outside in the spring, during the workday or at an event in the evening. Some of the offices even have their own slice of terrace as part of their leased space.

It has the same amenities as the fourth floor, including a kitchen area, conference rooms and phone booths; but there’s more, including a treadmill room where people can get a workout in front of one of the many big screens, and a more casual meeting room with couches instead of a conference table.

The most innovative new thing coming to The Mill will be a Studio Charter, a multi-lighting, multi-background mini studio for making social media videos, ads, podcasts and important Zoom calls. The facility was developed by Zach Phillips, creative director and founder of the production house Short Order Productions, which was acquired by Bowstring last summer. The studio is coming this year and will be ready at the expansion’s launch, but you can get a sneak preview of what Charter Studio does here.

The bigger, better downtown Mill is an achievement for a coworking space that not only survived a pandemic that triggered an exodus from office work but has thrived financially. It continues to expand beyond Wilmington, with a Seaford Mill aiming to open in 2025.

Still, the energy that filled The Mill in its early pre-pandemic years has yet to return fully. Herrera is more than ready to kickstart it again.

“We did well from a cash flow perspective throughout the last three years,” Herrera said, “but it really killed me coming in and just the place feeling empty.”

Some of the larger third-floor offices are aiming for bigger firms that you wouldn’t necessarily see in a “coworking” environment like The Mill — something that might create a whole new, maybe even more dynamic Mill vibe for the 2020s.

“We’re at this interesting point where people that would never consider coworking are now considering it,” Herrera said. “And that’s why this place has a certain caliber, a certain size and scale. I’m excited for that demographic to mix with the traditional coworking demographic. I believe it benefits your traditional startup world to be intermingled with bigger businesses.”

The real test may be in the spring, when remote workers who’ve holed up in their home offices for the winter potentially look for the connectivity of a coworking space. For now, you can check out these photos of the space by Joe Del Tufo (click on each photo to enlarge it):

Companies: The Mill
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