A plan to reuse and transform a huge tract of buildings north of uptown appeared to have the support of most members of Charlotte City Council on Monday night, despite lingering questions about how and when new roads will be built and about gentrification.
New York-based ATCO is redeveloping the 72-acre, former industrial site on Statesville Avenue into a mixed-use project with offices, hotels, apartments, shops, restaurants and light industrial space. The company paid $13.5 million for the site last year.
Although the developers have started to sign tenants to fill the mostly vacant site, including Hygge co-working, Hex Coffee and several art and fashion studios, the full redevelopment needs City Council’s approval. City Council is expected to vote on the proposal for the Camp North End development in September, although that vote could be delayed if outstanding issues aren’t resolved in time.
“We would want to work through, with the petitioner, the outstanding issues,” said Laura Harmon of the city’s planning staff.
The development is expected to generate up to 32,800 new daily vehicle trips when fully built, necessitating a major street network to handle the cars. There could eventually be up to 1,500 apartments, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 280,000 square feet of retail and 65,000 square feet of light industrial space on the site.
The buildings at the site now include a former Ford auto factory that dates to the 1920s and a former Rite-Aid distribution center. At various points in its life, the site has been used for missile assembly and as an ammunition dump by the U.S. Army. That’s where the project’s Camp North End name comes from – Charlotte Area Munitions Plant.
The majority of those buildings will be preserved and reused, especially the oldest ones in the core of the site. Some buildings, such as those near the Statesville/Woodward Avenue corner, could eventually be demolished to make way for residences.
“We’re proposing to preserve about two-thirds of the building area,” said Damon Hemmerdinger, co-president of ATCO. But demolition is years away, he said. “Our focus for the foreseeable future is to fill the buildings that are there, and not be building new structures.”
Council members who spoke all said they were excited about the plan, but some pressed the developer to take steps to ensure that the site’s history is preserved.
“I’m really concerned about what buildings might be torn down,” said council member Patsy Kinsey.
Council member Julie Eiselt said she wants to see more signs and other materials put in place to mark the area’s history, something Hemmerdinger said ATCO plans to do.
“That’s a big part of what we don’t do very well in Charlotte,” she said.
Another potential issue council members raise: Gentrification and the displacement of long-time residents nearby.
“The people that have lived there 60 years find their property values escalating, and doors being knocked on” by potential buyers, said Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles.
Around Camp North End, the neighborhoods just north of uptown are seeing a major surge of new development that’s thrusting the long-neglected area into the spotlight. A Tennessee developer is planning to build hundreds of apartments nearby between 24th and 26th streets, while Heist Brewery is opening a high-end butcher shop, bakery and brewery off Woodward Avenue.
“We have been working closely with (the developers),” said Darryl Gaston, of the Druid Hills Neighborhood Association, who said the neighborhood supports the development.