These changes will bring new entertainment and housing options to University City

Over the next year, developers expect to add several high-profile entertainment projects and hundreds of new apartments to University City.

Much of the growth is spurred by the light rail extension, which opened in March and goes from uptown to UNC Charlotte. Apartments and townhomes are being built near those new stops.

“As we layer in housing to University City, we’ll start to see the retail, dining and entertainment options expand,” said Tobe Holmes, planning and development director for University City Partners:

Here’s a look at some of the projects poised to change University City and the nearby area:

Armored Cow brewery

Armored Cow will be the first brewery to open in University City, and will specialize in gluten-free beers.

The brewery, expected to open early next year off JW Clay Boulevard near UNCC, is named after a slang term that World War II soldiers used for canned milk.

It will have a half-wall between the taproom and the brewing area, allowing customers to watch as beer is made, The Observer reported in October.

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The brewery plans to partner with certified gluten-free kitchens to offer snacks and baked goods. It will also offer some beers made with traditional grains.

Studio Movie Grill

It’s taken a little longer than expected, but a former Bi-Lo grocery store at 5336 Prosperity Church Road that closed in 2017 is still on track to become a Studio Movie Grill.

The theater was originally expected to open by early 2019, a company spokeswoman said. Now it is set to open in the third quarter of 2019, according to a Studio Movie Grill spokeswoman Lynne McQuaker. It will be the second location in Charlotte. The first location is in the Epicentre uptown and opened in 2014.

The theater, which offers meals during movies, will be 47,000 square feet, she said.

There will be 13 screens and more than 1,000 leather recliners, she said.

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Plans for a Topgolf at a 14.2-acre site off University City Boulevard and Ikea Drive, at the Interstate 85 interchange are also progressing.

Charlotte’s first Topgolf opened last year in Steele Creek. The new one will be near the University City light rail station.

Topgolf is an interactive driving-range-like facility that also includes a large restaurant and bar.

Topgolf canceled plans for a facility last year at the interchange of Interstate 85 and West Mallard Creek Church Road, after neighbors objected and lobbied City Council over concerns with traffic, noise and light pollution.

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At a Dec. 17 zoning meeting, City Council held a hearing on proposed “signage” at the new University area Topgolf location. The request was over two digital screens that are 3,000 square feet. City staff opposed the digital signs.

Officials representing Topgolf said the digital screens are comparable to scoreboards at Bank of America and BB&T stadium.

It is not clear when Topgolf will open.

UNCC Convention Center

A conference center and hotel on the campus of UNC Charlotte at the J.W. Clay Boulevard light rail station will create jobs and bring visitors to the university area.

Construction of the $87 million project is expected to begin early next year with a target open date of September 2020.

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The city is spending $8 million to subsidize the project with local hospitality taxes. The conference center will be 24,000 square feet and have a Marriott Hotel with 226 rooms.

New housing

Finally, there’s more housing coming too.

EBA Arrow has filed for rezoning approval for a “live/work/play mixed use activity core with significant pedestrian trail network and greenspace amenities.”

Plans show that the development on JW Clay Boulevard will have 600 residential units, 300,000 square feet of commercial space and 20,000 square feet of library space.

Meanwhile, Crescent Communities is building Novel Research Park at West Mallard Creek Church Road and Senator Royall Place with amenities such as a pool, walking trails, dog park, a 2,500 square-foot co-working space, outdoor grills, shuffleboard and hammocks in a garden.

The first apartments will be available early next spring, according to Crescent spokeswoman Connie Breedlove.

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Other projects include more than 300 apartments by Oxford Properties near the University City Boulevard light rail station and 280 apartments that will replace an office development at the McCollough light rail station.

Staff writers Ely Portillo and Katie Peralta contributed

Cassie Cope covers business in Charlotte, with a focus on Charlotte Douglas airport, Duke Energy, Atrium Health and Novant Health. She previously covered politics at The State in Columbia, S.C., and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.