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Building collaboration by design.

Byline: Sherri Buri McDonald The Register-Guard

About five years ago, when Hummingbird Wholesale spent millions transforming a warehouse into the Stellaria, its headquarters on the north edge of downtown Eugene, the company took tenants out of financial necessity.

Now, plans for a second building, east of the Stellaria, include tenants by design.

"What we've really enjoyed in this building is collaborative interaction," said Charlie Tilt, who owns Hummingbird with his wife, Julie.

The Stellaria, on Shelton-McMurphey Boulevard, opened in early 2012. It is home to Hummingbird, a wholesale distributor of organic foods, its gluten- free incubator kitchen and eight tenants, including Placido's Pasta Shop, a licensed midwife, the Lane County Farmers Market, Rural Development Initiatives, and Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, among others.

Hummingbird occupies about half the Stellaria, and tenants occupy half.

Hummingbird has grown at 25 to 30 percent a year since the Tilts bought the business, formerly named Honey Heaven, in 2003. Charlie Tilt projects growth of 20 to 30 percent a year and anticipates needing more warehouse space in the next couple of years.

"In a way, we're doing this before we need it," he said.

But instead of just adding more space for itself, Hummingbird is intentionally designing a "collaborative commercial building" with room for tenants and the broader community.

"We're trying to build the values around it before we build it," Tilt said.

Hummingbird will be the new building's main occupant. The Tilts said they're looking for two or three food-industry related tenants that could share part of Hummingbird's warehouse and use its equipment, such as forklifts.

They're also looking for office tenants focused on human health or environmental sustainability, who share Hummingbird's values of sustainability and creating zero waste, the Tilts said.

They said they'd like to have at least one small food outlet or restaurant in the new building.

The Stellaria leased up quickly, at a time when Lane County still was reeling from the Great Recession. Now the building has a waiting list, Tilt said.

The Tilts said they're talking with potential tenants for the new building, who they declined to name until leases are signed.

The companion building has yet to be named, but the Tilts said they're considering "Astara," in keeping with the cosmos theme of their first building.

The Tilts envision the two buildings possibly facing each other, and using the parking lot in between as an area for community events, such as buffet-style, farm-night dinners.

It would be a place for the community to meet, similar to the events hosted by Mazzi's/Hideaway Bakery in south Eugene, Tilt said.

"Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a gathering place in Eugene that isn't focused on beer and alcohol?" he said.

Alcohol would be served, but the events wouldn't revolve around it, Tilt added.

The Tilts and several of their family members in December bought about three-quarters of an acre east of the Stellaria on Shelton-McMurphey Boulevard, Tilt said.

The ground-floor warehouse and production area of the new building would be about 18,000 square feet. The size of the office space on the second and third floors has yet to be determined, Tilt said.

Some major expenses include $90,000 to bring electricity to the site and $80,000 for the building's elevator, he said.

The Stellaria incorporates many green building practices, including solar-powered hot water and energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems. The new building will have similar features, the Tilts said.

Hummingbird anticipates using the new building's ground floor for production space and about two-thirds of the warehouse, he said.

Hummingbird will keep the 19,000 square feet it occupies in the Stellaria, although it probably will reorganize company departments between the two buildings, Tilt said.

The Tilts, Charlie's older sister, Sue Zeni of Eugene, and his younger sister, Anni Tilt, and her husband David Arkin, who live near Berkeley, Calif., bought the 0.7-acre parcel on Dec. 10 from local businessmen and developers Tom Connor and Don Woolley for an undisclosed price, Charlie Tilt said. Anni Tilt, who is a green architect, will be the project architect.

Follow Sherri on Twitter @sburimcdonald.
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Title Annotation:Business; Hummingbird Wholesale, owner of Stellaria, is crafting a second building that will house tenants from the start
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 10, 2016
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