What used to be there? The rapid pace of demolitions is reshaping Charlotte

Demolition work in progress at Atherton Mill.
Demolition work in progress at Atherton Mill.

Charlotte gets knocked for tearing down historic buildings and replacing them with plaques, but that criticism hasn’t made us any less inclined to demolish the old to make way for the new than we used to be.

Indeed, as the city’s building boom wears on, we’re tearing down more buildings than we have in years. Commercial building demolition permits are on pace to hit about 175 this year – a three-year high and more than double the previous two years – while single-family tear-downs are reshaping older residential neighborhoods like Dilworth and Sedgefield.

One of the trends that’s driving the demolition boom: The ongoing redevelopment of the areas in and around uptown, where the land is often more valuable for denser uses than the buildings already there. That’s prompted owners to sell to developers who replace older businesses like Tremont Music Hall with townhouses, for example.

The buildings being demolished around Charlotte aren’t necessarily historic, but many of them have long been familiar landmarks for local residents. And the fast pace of demolition means that if you don’t visit a neighborhood for a few weeks, you might find yourself scratching your head and trying to remember “What was there?” the next time you drive by.

The demolition boom doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon either. Well-known (if aged) buildings such as the Main Library and the shuttered Board of Education building are slated to come down in the coming years for redevelopment.

Demolition costs can be expensive – permits show the Pepsi Bottling site in South End cost $360,000 to tear down, while the former Observer building uptown cost $4.2 million – but buildings cost far less to tear down than to build. Developers can often save money on their building costs, too, by recycling some of the material, such as grinding up stone from the old building and using it to fill or level parts of the site.

Here are some of the biggest demolitions in recent years across Charlotte, along with what will replace them.

Pepsi Bottling site, South End

What’s gone: A soda bottling plant at 2820 South Boulevard that dated to 1938.

Pepsi-Cola facility on Monday February 2, 2015 at 2820 South Blvd. Bert Fox

What’s coming next: A mixed-use development with 432 apartments, along with shops and restaurants.

Pepsi Bottling Ventures Land Site Development rendering 1 email
The Lenna Multifamily mixed-use plan for the Pepsi Bottling site in South End. The plan includes a six-story building with apartments and ground-floor retail. Axiom/Courtesy Lennar

Who’s behind it: Lennar Multifamily, an apartment developer which bought the site for $17.85 million.

Former Charlotte Observer building, uptown

620 South Tryon PUBLICATION IMAGE 02
Rendering of new tower on former Observer site. LS3P

What’s gone: The Observer’s former offices and printing plant at Stonewall and South Tryon streets.

What’s coming next: A huge new development anchored by a 33-story tower occupied by Bank of America, as well as hotels, restaurants, shopping and residences.

Who’s behind it: Lincoln Harris and Goldman Sachs paid $37.5 million for the 10 acres of prime uptown land.

Common Market building and shops, South End

What’s gone: The former site of the Common Market in South End, along with other retailers and the original Food Truck Friday lot.

Demolition of the Common Market. Ely Portillo

What’s coming next: An eight-story regional headquarters for financial firm Dimension Fund Advisors.

Who’s behind it: Developer Cousins Properties bought the site for $12.2 million.

Former Jackalope Jacks building, Elizabeth

What’s gone: The Seventh Street building that used to house Jackalope Jacks, which has since relocated to Commonwealth Avenue.

Former Jackalope Jacks site Courtesy RCI Demolition

What’s coming next: Apartments from development firm Faison.

Who’s behind it: Faison paid just over $5 million for the site last year.

Actor’s Theatre building, uptown

What’s gone: The Stonewall Street building that used to say “GO PANTHERS” in white letters on the black roof, home to Actor’s Theatre since 2004.

Demolition of the Actor’s Theatre building. Ely Portillo

What’s coming next: A new apartment building called Montage, with 302 units.

Rendering of Montage. Axiom Architecture, courtesy Proffitt Dixon

Who’s behind it: Developer Proffitt Dixon paid $8.6 million for the site.

Atherton Mill (the nonhistoric parts), South End

What’s gone: The newer buildings on the southern portion of the site, which housed a bank and businesses such as Bonz, a barbecue restaurant.

What’s coming next: A mixed-use development with 432 apartments, along with shops and restaurants.

Atherton Rendering
Rendering of new apartments at Atherton Mill. Courtesy Edens/Crescent

Who’s behind it: Lennar Multifamily, an apartment developer that bought the site for $17.85 million.

Tremont Music Hall, South End

What’s gone: A longtime music venue that closed after a 20-year run in 2015.

What’s coming next: Seventy-four townhouses.

Tremont Music Hall Observer archives

Who’s behind it: Developer Carolina Capital Investment Partners bought the property in June for $3 million.

Observer staff writer Gavin Off contributed.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo