Developers break ground on major mixed-use redevelopment in Plaza Midwood

By Liz O’Con­nell — Staff Writer, Char­lotte Busi­ness Journal

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A ground­break­ing cer­e­mo­ny was held today for a rede­vel­op­ment project that will bring retail, restau­rants, office space, apart­ments, and a bou­tique hotel to the site of Cen­tral Square in Plaza Midwood. 

City offi­cials, devel­op­ers, and oth­er part­ners gath­ered today for the ground­break­ing cer­e­mo­ny of the Com­mon­wealth project in Plaza Midwood. 

The mixed-use devel­op­ment from Crosland South­east and Nuveen Real Estate will bring retail, restau­rants, office space, apart­ments, and a bou­tique hotel to the cur­rent site of Cen­tral Square. It spans 12 acres at Cen­tral and Pecan avenues. Project lead­ers released ren­der­ings for Com­mon­wealth in September.

A hand­ful of cur­rent Cen­tral Square ten­ants are expect­ed to remain onsite. the ABC store at Cen­tral Square tem­porar­i­ly closed on Oct. 30 to accom­mo­date the rede­vel­op­ment project, but it is expect­ed to reopen in ear­ly 2022. The Roast­ing’s Co.‘s loca­tion at Cen­tral Square was among the most recent clo­sures there, shut­ter­ing Nov. 14, fol­low­ing Eliz­a­beth Bil­lards, Sam­my’s Deli, and Yama Izakaya.

The joint ven­ture pur­chased the site in Novem­ber of 2020 for $50 mil­lion, the Char­lotte Busi­ness Jour­nal pre­vi­ous­ly reported. 

Once com­plete, the 383-unit apart­ment com­plex is expect­ed to bring near­ly 500 res­i­dents to the area and about 3,000 employ­ees to the 150,000 square-foot office space that will be part of the Com­mon­wealth, Bob­by Speir, senior vice pres­i­dent of acqui­si­tions at Crosland South­east, said today.

Char­lot­teans took to social media with a range of opin­ions when the news of the rede­vel­op­ment first broke. Some claimed the devel­op­ment would take away from the Plaza Mid­wood’s iden­ti­ty or his­to­ry would be lost.

But Coun­cil­man Larken Egle­ston, whose dis­trict cov­ers Plaza Mid­wood, said he has been adamant about keep­ing the neigh­bor­hood’s his­to­ry alive with this devel­op­ment since its inception.

I think there is a lot of ben­e­fit to (Com­mon­wealth) and change is always met with a mixed bag of reac­tions,” Egle­ston said. “But there is a lot of good com­ing out of this.”

The site includes two vin­tage build­ings that were once home to a Cole Man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty. Egle­ston believes those build­ings are among the old­est in the neighborhood.

When the project was first being dis­cussed, many devel­op­ers said pre­serv­ing those build­ings would be hard work, Egle­ston not­ed dur­ing the event. But Egle­ston, who backs the idea of pre­serv­ing his­toric build­ings, said some things worth doing are bound to be hard, ulti­mate­ly lead­ing to Crosland South­east land­ing the project. 

Speir spoke dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny about the site’s his­to­ry and how the vin­tage build­ings will set the project apart. Aside from the build­ings, the site is where the late Rev. Bil­ly Gra­ham pro­fessed his faith in Christ at a tent revival at what is now the Cen­tral Square park­ing lot, Speir remarked. 

Com­mon­wealth will give a nod to the past while also look­ing to the future, Speir said. The new build­ings will include bal­conies over­look­ing the his­toric struc­tures, for instance. A curved road will also be built on the site in such a way to high­light the 100-plus-year-old buildings. 

The mixed-use devel­op­ment will include micro-retail oppor­tu­ni­ties, murals from local artists, and green wall instal­la­tions. A main street con­nect­ing to Cen­tral and Pecan avenues will be added, mak­ing the devel­op­ment a walk­a­ble live-work-play area.

The first phase of con­struc­tion is expect­ed to be com­plete in the spring of 2024. a sec­ond phase is slat­ed to kick off in 2023.