Development

Hey, whose streetcars are those in west Charlotte?

The streetcars, preparing to move outside.
The streetcars, preparing to move outside.

While the city’s Gold Line streetcar gets most of the attention, its not the only streetcar project in town

A smaller-scale initiative is taking place just outside of uptown, where Argos Advisors is refurbishing the defunct 180,000-square-foot Savona Mill to transform the building into creative office space, an “incubator” kitchen and, of course, a brewery.

A pair of streetcars have been moved out of warehouse space in Savona Mill to make room for a new brewery in west Charlotte, with hopes to eventually connect the mill with center city.

Blue Blaze Brewery is starting construction this month on an 8,000-square-foot brewing facility and taproom, with a planned opening in spring 2016. The brewery is Savona Mill’s first tenant.

The streetcars, are from Charleston, where they ran until 1938. They’ve been in the warehouse space Blue Blaze will occupy since 2013, when Argos Advisors president Greg Pappanastos arranged to ship them to Charlotte. Now, the streetcars are outside on a vacant lot next to the mill, where workers will refurbish them.

Pappanastos hopes to restore a streetcar line between the mill and uptown, where tracks that once carried trains are still in the ground.

The estimated cost is $1 million, and a private group called Lakewood Trolley has been formed to sponsor the effort. Here’s a more detailed explanation from Argos:

Greg Pappanastos, president of Argos Real Estate Advisors: "It's time to introduce these two to the community. We want people to get familiar with them and start dreaming about what could be."

The Charleston cars were brought to Charlotte as part of a strategy to connect West End neighborhoods with the vibrancy of uptown and call attention to the amenity of the Stewart Creek Greenway and green spaces of the west side. The Savona Mill, once served by the Piedmont & Northern Railway and Charlotte's streetcar system as a destination between uptown and Lakewood Park, sits in Seversville just a mile from Cedar St. in Third Ward. The tracks that used to carry streetcars to the mill are fully intact.

Lakewood Trolley, a private non-profit formed by community stakeholders, which Pappanastos also chairs, secured Charlotte's original and restored Car No. 85 from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission this summer and is working with NCDOT to operate it from the Savona Mill to Cedar St., one block from the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Knights stadiums. The project will cost roughly $1 million to build and is being modeled after the Platte Valley Trolley in Denver, CO, which runs on Denver Broncos game days.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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