Marketing and technology firm Red Ventures broke ground Wednesday on a project that will double the size of its headquarters – and CEO Ric Elias is hoping the ceremony won’t be the company’s last.
“You never take it for granted,” said Elias, standing in front of the site of its planned new buildings. “This could truly be our last groundbreaking. ... This world is changing fast.”
“In many ways, what’s coming is hard,” said Elias, who said the firm will have to stay hungry and innovate in order to sustain growth.
The company has added to a growing boom on the southern edge of the Charlotte metro area in upstate South Carolina. Government officials heaped praise on Red Ventures, which has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2000 and now employs more than 2,200 at its Indian Land headquarters.
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“I want to work at Red Ventures when I grow up,” said S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, speaking about a company known for its hard-charging environment and amenities such as a basketball court and bowling alley for employees. “This is a fantastic place.”
South Carolina has approved job development tax credits to help fund the project, Haley’s office said Wednesday, though the value of the credits was not disclosed. The state is also giving Lancaster County a $550,000 grant for road improvements, including expanding and extending S.C. 160, which will become the main entrance to the campus.
The company, which moved its headquarters from Charlotte to just south of the state line in 2009, announced recently that it has invested $15 million in a San Francisco-based mobile advertising company called Ampush. In May, Red Ventures bought marketing services firm Imagitas for $310 million.
Red Ventures also has offices on Louis Rose Place in the University City area, and in July leased 97,599 square feet at the nearby Cambridge Corporate Center.
The company’s expansion, called RV4, will add 300,000 square feet of space to its existing headquarters off Highway 521, south of Ballantyne. Comprised of three connected buildings, the $90 million addition will add space for 1,500 more employees that Red Ventures hopes to hire in the next five to seven years.
The centerpiece of the new complex will be a six-story building that will include training rooms, a ballroom with capacity for 650 people, a 275-seat auditorium and a 90,000 square-foot sales center. A parking deck with 1,450 new spaces is planned, as is an outdoor amphitheater and on-site cafe. The parking deck and sales center are expected to be complete in late 2016, while the six-story building and training facilities are expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2017.
Overcash Demmitt is the architect on the project, and Choate Construction is the general contractor.
Red Ventures’ ambitions extend beyond its immediate campus. This year, the company bought 120 acres surrounding its headquarters, bringing its total holdings to 170 acres including the 39 acres its campus occupies now.
At the entrance to Red Ventures’ headquarters complex, work is set to start in about a month on a Marriott TownPlace Suites hotel. OHM Hotels is the developer on the project, which is the first brand-name hotel in Lancaster County, and Red Ventures said it is a “significant” investor in the project. The hotel is expected to open in late 2016.
In the coming years, the company could develop apartment housing on some of its land holdings, CFO Mark Brodsky said. Even if Red Ventures doesn’t develop its land holdings itself, the company is now positioned to control what gets built around it.
“We went pretty much all-in,” said Brodsky. “It’s a lot of land, if you look at it that way.”
He said the new six-story building will be visible from far away on the relatively flat land with mostly one- or two-story buildings around it, creating a “signature” tower.
Adjacent to Red Ventures, MPV Properties is planning a 40-acre retail development called Redstone at Highway 521 and S.C. 160. Redstone will include a 14-screen movie theater, and the developers are hoping to attract national retail tenants.