The former Innsbrook After Hours property has lined up its next act.
The Glades, a 4-acre food truck park from local entrepreneur Phu Nguyen, is planning to begin operations in mid-September at 4901 Lake Brook Drive, where the long-running concert series was previously held.
The Glades will feature about 20 food trucks, as well as covered seating, plantings and decorative lighting on its opening day.
“The idea of The Glades is to be a hub for people to hang out,” said Nguyen. “It’s a community space where friends and families and business professionals can come and hang out and enjoy great food. But also find nooks and crannies that are somewhat uniquely designed and constructed throughout the park.”
The full development of The Glades is expected to play out over time. Later phases are expected to include a dog park, a kids’ play area and more seating among other features. Events like farmers’ markets, art exhibitions and live music performances are also on the drawing board.
“There’s going to be a lot of interesting features. I’m planning to build it out in phases. That way there’s always something to look forward to,” Nguyen said.
The park is expected to be a seven-figure investment at full buildout, Nguyen said.
The Glades is situated within a 34-acre site at Nuckols Road and Interstate 295 in Innsbrook that Highwoods Properties has teed up for multi-use development. Last year Highwoods sold 22 of those acres to Massachusetts-based Northland, which is planning to bring retail and residential development to the property.
The Glades site was formerly occupied by Innsbrook After Hours, which EventMakers-USA operated until the concert series was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ultimately never picked back up in that location. Though no longer operated by EventMakers, the Innsbrook After Hours series lives on at the Innsbrook Shoppes center on Cox Road.
Highwoods, a major landlord in Innsbrook, still owns the remaining 12 acres that include the old concert venue, where The Glades will reside. The firm is eyeing the acreage for future office development.
But with that project still a ways off, Highwoods Richmond market leader Jane DuFrane said The Glades offers a means to bring an amenity to complement the existing nearby office buildings that Highwoods owns and ahead of broader development plans.
“An overarching theme in Innsbrook is we want to make our properties more commute-worthy and we feel like people are better together. Food and beverage is a way to do that. It’s something we’ve heard our customers ask for,” DuFrane said. “Northland will develop retail with their proposed project. However, it is several years out and we have to solve for that issue today.”
The Glades signed a five-year lease on its 4-acre site last weekend. DuFrane said that when the time comes to start construction on new offices, and if The Glades has proven itself a success, Highwoods would help The Glades relocate to a new site.
Amid changing attitudes around working in offices as a result of the pandemic, Nguyen said he aims to create a destination that would appeal not only to Innsbrook office workers but also to families in the area.
“The corporate climate will do its thing. I think we just need to focus on creating an environment that’s appealing. This will potentially be a factor that will draw in more corporate clients to locate themselves in the area,” he said.
The seating areas to be established in the park’s first phase would take the form of repurposed shipping containers, and as of this week, Nguyen said he was still working on how many would be installed initially.
About a half dozen vendors have already been signed up to operate at The Glades, Nguyen said. Among them are Calypso’s Caribbean Kitchen, as well as new trucks that plan to make their debut at The Glades. The park intends to market itself through a social media campaign that hasn’t kicked off yet.
Nguyen, who also founded and later sold food takeout service FoodUp, said visitors to The Glades will be able to order from the food trucks present on a given day from the park’s website.
Food trucks will pay a fee to operate at the park, and the fee includes access to water and electricity. Nguyen said the electricity access would preclude the need for trucks to use their own power generators, and is intended to cut down on noise at the park. The site already features outdoor electrical infrastructure left over from the tenure of Innsbrook After Hours that The Glades plans to utilize.
The park’s fees for food truck operators range from a $120 pay-as-you-go daily rate to a $560 seven-day access package, per its website.
The park is planned to operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Its first day of operation is planned to be Sept. 15.
The Glades is hiring for marketing, maintenance, vendor relations and other roles, per its website.
Nguyen said he was inspired to start The Glades when he made a pit stop to order from a food truck during a late-night drive around 2018.
“The inspiration for this was an 11 p.m. drive. I saw this food truck and I pulled in. While I was waiting, I noticed this huge parking lot and there was only one food truck. That was the light bulb moment. Over the years I kept dwelling on it and one day decided to go for it,” he said.