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3 Charlotte development trends to watch in 2016

Cranes dot the skyline and construction seems to be everywhere in Charlotte. As the city continues to grow, development will continue to boom around town.

Here are the three biggest Charlotte development trends to expect in 2016, based on a conversation I recently had with Observer development reporter Ely Portillo. (Want to hear the whole conversation and learn more about these trends? We talked to Ely in the first episode of The Good News Is … podcast, which debuts Thursday!)

(1) Apartments

Duh, right? It seems like every week we hear about a new apartment building or mixed-use development popping up, especially in the popular center-city neighborhoods Plaza Midwood, South End and NoDa.

You should expect more of this in 2016. Apparently there are enough people coming to Charlotte to warrant all these apartments — the vacancy rate isn’t going down and the average rent is still pretty high.

And these aren’t your standard (read: affordable) apartments with white appliances and laminate floors. To stay competitive, apartments offer all kinds of luxury amenities to draw residents, like dog washes, bocce courts and bike storage rooms.

(2) Mills

Mills are so hot right now. A few big projects have been announced around uptown:

Highland Park Mill, north of uptown at North Brevard and 16th: The historic mill, which dates back to 1891, will be transformed into restaurant and retail space, a food hall, and office space, pending the approval of the rezoning request.


Savona Mill, in West End on South Turner Street: This 180,000 square-foot mill that runs along Stewart Creek Greenway will also be transformed into office and retail space, including an incubator kitchen, which would provide space for food entrepreneurs. One of the first tenants for the building was Blue Blaze Brewing, which is expected to open some time this year. Speaking of which …


Atherton Mill, in South End: A major redevelopment project is set for the South End mill complex. It would add hundreds of apartments, office space and more retailers to the 9.75-acre site that opened in 1893.

(3) Breweries

Like apartments, these are sprouting up all over town with no sign of stopping. In just the past couple of months, Three Spirits Brewing opened along the light rail line and Legion Brewing opened in Plaza Midwood, and NoDa Brewing opened a huge new space on North Tryon.

Photo Dec 08, 12 26 30 PM

Along with Blue Blaze Brewing, other breweries are in the process of opening in the area. And it’s not just limited to Charlotte neighborhoods like South End and NoDa. Breweries are popping up outside of the city in Cornelius, Concord and Rock Hill. Even Kannapolis wants a brewery downtown.

How many more breweries can the area support? The trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

Photos: Charlotte Observer file; Perkins+Will; Corey Inscoe