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UNCC has big plans for this stop along the Blue Line light rail

After a decade of planning, Charlotte’s light-rail extension finally opens

Passengers cheered and clapped as Charlotte’s light-rail extension left the UNC Charlotte station at 10 a.m. Friday morning, opening the Lynx Blue line after four years of construction.
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Passengers cheered and clapped as Charlotte’s light-rail extension left the UNC Charlotte station at 10 a.m. Friday morning, opening the Lynx Blue line after four years of construction.

UNC Charlotte is planning to develop a hotel and conference center along the recently opened Blue Line extension, as the college looks to attract more academic gatherings.

The school recently filed plans to rezone a site at North Tryon Street and J.W. Clay Boulevard, on the east side of the intersection. That's across from the J.W. Clay Boulevard stop, near the Tryon Street entrance to the university's campus.

"We have thought for a long time that we had an opportunity to attract larger academic conferences to Charlotte, but we didn't really have the conference facilities on campus," said Niles Sorensen, president of the UNC Charlotte Foundation.

Preliminary plans filed with the city show the hotel would have up to 230 rooms, and Sorensen said they're hoping to sign a full-service Marriott hotel to the project. The center would also include about 15,000 square feet of conference space.

Sorensen said the Blue Line extension was key to the project.

The rail line will allow the school to link the conference center to its uptown building, and will also allow uptown gatherings to easily use the hotel for additional rooms.

"It played a huge role," said Sorensen.

Charlotte City Council will hold hearings on the plan in the coming months, and if the rezoning is approved, Sorensen said construction could start in early 2019. The goal would be to open the hotel by summer 2020.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; @ESPortillo
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