The Visitor Info Center opened its new location Monday at the Charlotte Convention Center, after the Charlotte Chamber’s renovation plans forced it to vacate its old location on South Tryon Street.
“We think the Convention Center is the biggest location where we have visitors coming, and we can really ramp up customer service and availability of information,” said Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. “We’re pleased we’ve made this move.”
The Visitor Info Center, which is part of the CRVA, has spent several years at 330 S. Tryon St., subleasing space from the Charlotte Chamber. But the chamber plans to renovate its uptown headquarters, in the same building, causing the Visitor Info Center and Amelie’s French Bakery to leave.
The economic development and business advocacy group has occupied that building for 20 years.
The project, which follows the chamber’s renewal of its lease, will begin in early December. Work is slated to be finished by April. The chamber will reclaim the building’s first-floor space, and the renovation will feature first-floor glass walls, making the main entrance area and staircase visible from South Tryon Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The changes will leave Grubb Properties, owner of the site, with a two-story, 10,000-square-foot restaurant space for lease. The entrance will be on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Natalie Dick, spokeswoman for the chamber, said the move to the first floor allows chamber members to better greet visitors and visitors to have easier access to chamber members.
“It made sense for us, and it will really allow us to be able to show and tell the Charlotte story,” she said. “It’s going to be a positive situation for the chamber.”
Murray said there are no hard feelings on the part of the Visitor Info Center.
“We understand the chamber was growing and that their needs were growing,” Murray said. “We had a great long-lasting partnership with the chamber, and that will continue.”
He added that the chamber gave the CRVA plenty of notice to relocate.
“It really worked well with our timing in trying to beef up our presence in the Convention Center.”
Still, Genie Hufham, who has volunteered at the Visitor Info Center for most of the past 18 years, said she will miss the old location. She said she’s frequently met people who happen upon the center by chance while walking through uptown.
“Personally I think having that Tryon Street presence has been huge,” she said. “The Convention Center is off the beaten path.”
Still, Hufham said she is looking forward to her first volunteer shift at the new location on Thursday and is hopeful the information center will get just as much traffic.
“I’m really hoping they get that same kind of exposure,” she said, noting that the new location is right by the LYNX station. “I just love what they do. I really feel strongly that the visitor center provides a tremendous service to the city as a whole.”