The Systel Building in downtown Fayetteville, with its looming aluminum-and-glass facade, has been undergoing extensive renovations since August 2018. Now, it has a new anchor tenant.
Raleigh-headquartered Dogwood State Bank has moved into the first floor of the downtown fixture, which ranks as the city center’s tallest. Listed at 168 feet high, the 11-story building dates to 1973 when it was completed at a cost of $3 million, online sources say.
A half century later, changes are underway, including a new name for the building at 225 Green St. in the Cool Spring Downtown District.
A sign with the name will be unveiled at a ribbon-cutting at 5 p.m. Monday.
“I don't think I can say,” said Jacqueline Smith, when asked about the new name. "But if you call me back Monday, I can tell you."
Smith, whose family owns the building, is the broker in charge for the Systel Building for Allison Capital Partners.
Smith did say that the name is of a new company looking to grow in Fayetteville.
Dogwood State Bank, which is in the process of growing statewide, has the naming rights.
The bank's CEO is Steve Jones, a former Fayetteville resident.
Jones could not be reached for comment last week.
Dogwood “was a great addition, and it helps us with our goals of making the building a mixed use, having the retail bank in there. And it allowed us to kind of complete our full renovation of the first floor,” Smith said.
She works with the property managers on site.
The building has 37 tenants, including a couple on the rooftop, Smith said.
“We’re going to follow that with a complete lobby renovation here shortly,” she said. “We’re now 100% occupied on the first floor with a variation of retail, restaurant and office. We’ve kind of accomplished our goals there.”
In a news release, Smith said her family had been looking for an anchor tenant to rebrand the building since Systel — a technology and business services company — relocated to an industrial park 10 years ago.
Formerly known as the Wachovia Building, the Systel property is owned by Fayetteville businessman Keith Allison and his three daughters: Smith, Cara Spencer and Janene Aul. The investment in the building will total about $3 million once all the work is complete, Smith said.
Many of the city's older residents will remember when the Skyline disco club was at the top of the building in the 1970s and 1980s.
“I think that downtown is sort of the hub of the city, and it’s usually the focal area for government and where people like to eat and dine and live,” said Smith. “We have the largest square footage of leasable space and I think the largest tract of acreage. If needed, we could add a parking deck, or another high-rise building could exist next to us in the parking lot."
The family bought the property in 1998 and had been using the building in recent years to house its marketing department and mortgage company.
“We knew it would be a three- to five-year project,” Smith said of the revitalization. “In the process, three floors were gutted.”
A couple of months ago, a fitness center opened on the second floor, Smith said.
“So that was a big part of the revitalization. And we just signed off and have full engineer plans on our fifth-floor renovation that we have to start in the next few months,” she said.
Plans for that space include an “industrial, upscale office space,” she said.
A similar renovation on the eighth floor is anticipated.
Smith said a lot has been accomplished on the building since construction began in 2018.
“We’ve completed our restaurant downstairs, and they celebrated their one-year anniversary three months ago,” she said. “We did a big campaign to recruit one, and we did some interviews with a couple of interested parties and did some taste testings and selected one.”
Friend’s Table, whose food is described as upscale Southern, opened in November 2021.
“They’re open for breakfast and lunch. They’ve got a pretty good following on social media,” she said. “They’re always doing something fun and unique in the space. They’re even open on the weekends, as well.”
Besides the bank and restaurant, the property management office and a conference room that can be used by tenants are on the first floor. A state tenant with a lab is also on the ground floor.
Smith said the owners tried to recruit tenants not just to Fayetteville but to downtown.
“We’ve got a couple of floors to go, but we’ve got a couple of things that we’re working on for some of the top floors that we hope come to fruition,” she said. “But other than that, we’re kind of coming to the ending stages of our revitalization. And leasing out the naming rights was a kind of a surprise component of the revitalization that we weren’t expecting, but it makes sense.”
Renovations on the Systel Building could be completed this year depending on some plans still being worked on for the top floors.
“If that were to come to fruition, it could add to our timeline quite a bit,” Smith said. “We are now exploring options for a residential or hospitality component. We're looking into it.”
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.