Cranes are back in force uptown

When the new 300 South Tryon office tower broke ground in December, Gov. Pat McCrory made a simple statement: “The cranes are back.”

Now, construction is bearing out his words. If construction cranes are a rough proxy of an area’s growth, uptown is speeding toward boom status again, with a half dozen cranes dotting the skyline and more on the way.

Still, we aren’t close to the crane count uptown reached during the height of the pre-recession boom. According to an Observer count in January 2008, there were 25 tower cranes in and around the I-277 loop.

The influx of new cranes, though, sometimes comes with inconveniences.

South Church Street will close from Friday to Sunday for installation of a second tower crane at the 300 South Tryon construction site. Installation of the office tower project’s first crane recently closed Third Street for several days.

The closure, between West Third Street and West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, will start at 9 a.m. Friday. The Charlotte Department of Transportation said the road will reopen by 2 p.m. Sunday.

Local access and pedestrian access will be maintained. The crane’s base is already visible on Church Street.

All told, five cranes are already poking through the uptown skies, including the existing crane at 300 South Tryon. The tower is expected to be 25 stories, with Babson Capital as the anchor tenant. The project also will feature a hotel, though the brand hasn’t been announced.

Here’s a rundown of uptown’s new cranes and what they’re building:

▪ Ascent apartments at Third and Poplar streets: Greystar is building a 32-story apartment tower down the block from 300 South Tryon, with more than 300 units and 3,200 square feet of retail.

▪ The Mint apartments: Childress Klein is building a tower atop the Mint Museum on South Church street, with 392 units. The building will total 42 stories when it opens in 2017.

▪ Embassy Suites: BPR Properties is building the 250-suite hotel on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, adjacent to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

▪ SkyHouse Uptown: With the first tower almost finished, Grubb Properties and Novare are building a parking deck at the SkyHouse uptown project on North Church Street. A second, identical tower SkyHouse apartment tower is planned for the site.

▪ Expect more cranes in the near future. Portman Holdings is planning to start work soon on an office tower at 615 S. College St., and Crescent Communities will soon begin an office tower and possible hotel at Tryon and Stonewall streets.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo