An excavator crashed its claw into the lone brown-brick building on the corner of West Boulevard and Camden Road on Tuesday, beginning the final demolition on the property before construction begins on a new residential and retail complex in August.
Nearly 50 people were on hand to celebrate the demolition and soak in the continued revitalization in the South End neighborhood.
Camden Gallery, as the complex will be called, will feature 323 apartments and 8,600 square feet of retail space when it’s complete in the first quarter of 2015, said Holly Casper, district manager for Camden Property Trust, the development company in charge of the project.
Sandy May, who works in the UPS store across the street from the razing, said the event is symbolic of the neighborhood’s recent growth from a warehousing district to an urban residential hotspot.
“Prior to the renaissance, for lack of a better word, there were no destinations over here,” said May, who has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years. “Now with this, we’re giving people a reason to come.”
Camden Gallery is one of five multi-family development projects that total 1,231 units that are currently planned for the neighborhood, said Ted Boyd, director of Historic South End.
Since 2012, eight additional projects with 1,845 units have been completed or are currently under construction in the area, he said, amounting to nearly $300 million worth of construction.
Currently, about 3,200 people live in South End, Boyd said. He envisions the population doubling by 2015, with most of the new residents being in the 25 to 45 age range.
Much of the development has been around Charlotte’s Lynx Blue Line in South End.
Of the more than 4,000 apartment units announced in the city last year, 65 percent were around within a 15-minute walk from the line, according to CoStar, a real estate analytics firm.
Eric Zaverl, 33, stopped by on Tuesday to watch the yellow excavator tear through the wood, brick and glass of the house.
He’s lived in the Post South End apartments for more than two years, he said, and wants to move to another apartment complex in the neighborhood with his wife.
He said his rent has increased every time he renews his lease, and available housing is becoming more scarce. He’s hoping the increased supply of apartments such as Camden Gallery will drive down the price, he said.
“It’s good to see land that wasn’t being used before go toward something,” he said of the demolition.
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