Three years ago, Grubb Properties announced it was kicking off the redevelopment of the historic Glen Lennox community. On August 19, 2021, The Gwendolyn officially opened its doors, bringing the first Class-A office space to the neighborhood. Named after Gwendolyn Harrison Smith, the first African-American woman to enroll in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), the grand opening was attended by scores of people who supported the project as well as the friends and family of the late Mrs. Smith.
Guests gathered in Frasier Park adjacent to the four-story, state-of-the-art office space that was designed for innovative companies to grow in one of the most convenient locations in the Triangle. With the building providing a striking backdrop, family members, brokers, neighbors and town officials mingled while enjoying pastries and coffee from Coco, The Gwendolyn’s future plant-based café.
Joe Dye, Executive Vice President, Grubb Properties, emceed the ceremony which included Clay Grubb, Grubb Properties’ CEO and Marqueta Welton, Chief of Staff, North Carolina Department of Commerce, who both spoke about how the building will help address a critical shortage of commercial office space in Chapel Hill.
In his remarks, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz was happy to welcome the modern facility just down the road from campus. In honor of Mrs. Smith’s groundbreaking accomplishments, Chancellor Guskiewicz also announced Grubb Properties created the Gwendolyn Harrison Smith Diversity Graduate Student Excellence Fund. The $100,000 gift will produce an annual payout of $5,000 each year to support graduate students and diversity in the College of Arts and Sciences. Having pursued a graduate degree in Spanish there, the scholarship is a fitting homage to Mrs. Smith’s pioneering spirit and academic legacy.
The other highlight of the morning was hearing personal anecdotes about Mrs. Smith from two of her children, Carla Smith-Brown and Dwight Smith. They painted a picture of a passionate learner with genius-level intelligence who instilled strong family values in all the lives she touched. The number of family and friends who turned out to honor Mrs. Smith spoke volumes about the profound impact she had on her community and the respect everyone had for her.
A ribbon cutting performed by Mrs. Smith’s children, the Chancellor and Mr. Grubb concluded the ceremony to elated rounds of applause. Afterwards, guests were invited to tour the 109,000 square foot building whose amenities include an 18-hour terrace café, touchless entry, an indoor cycle center, and an onsite wellness studio with showers and locker rooms.
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