Growth & Development

Charlotte just wrapped up its busiest decade ever for uptown development

Three new office buildings - for Ally Financial, Honeywell and Bank of America - in uptown Charlotte. The corner of Stonewall and Tryon was formerly occupied by a Goodyear auto shop and the Charlotte Observer building. Photo: Ely Portillo

The 2010s in uptown Charlotte were a decade with a split personality, starting with an epic crash and swinging to a huge boom that transformed the skyline and left an enormous mark on the city.

At the start of the decade, rusting rebar poked up from the EpiCentre, a reminder of a condo project that never got started. The Park (now SKYE) condo tower sat unfinished, an embarassing sign of the stalled market on Caldwell Street. And the Vue condos in First Ward sat mostly dark, 50 stories of high-end residences where only about a dozen sold. 

Now, those buildings are all full. Cranes dot the skyline, picking their way around new towers. A formerly row of empty lots on Stonewall Street is one of the busiest stretches of the city, with more than 1,200 new apartments, a Whole Foods and other retail now open. Well over 1 million square feet of office space are under construction at a single intersection, Stonewall and South Tryon streets, home to another Bank of America tower, Truist bank, Honeywell and Duke Energy’s new high-rise. 

[Read more: What Charlotte needs to grow into a great city]

“We’re becoming a better neighborhood, a better employment center, a better destination,” said Michael Smith, chief executive officer of Charlotte Center City Partners. The group released their annual State of the Center City report on Wednesday, covering uptown and South End. 

“We had a decade that out-delivered anyone’s expectations,” said Smith. Now, he said the city needs to focus on building the services and infrastructure need to sustain the boom — affordable housing, transit, roads, bicycle lanes, parks and more. “How do we meet it with the set of support services and supporting investments that we need to have a balanced community?”

Construction at the Ally Center in uptown Charlotte, a former Goodyear shop. Photo: Ely Portillo

Here are five key numbers from the report that show the scale of the boom in uptown and South End:

8.3 million

Square feet of office space developed from 2010 to 2020. That’s well above the previous high-water mark of 5.3 million square feet in the 2000s. South End has emerged as a Class A office market in its own right, with major new buildings like Lowe’s tech center, the Rail Yard and Dimensional Fund Advisors.

12,205

Residential units developed. That’s more than double the amount of residential units developed in the previous three decades. Overall, the number of housing units nearly doubled since 2010 in uptown and grew by 135 percent in South End. Over 20 years, South End’s population density has grown from less than 1 person per acre to about 14. 

30 percent

That’s the share of center city workers who use public transit for at least part of their trip, well above the citywide average. The Blue Line light rail extension to UNC Charlotte opened in 2018, making it easier for workers to come in from the north, and the Charlotte Area Transit System has continued to invest in express bus service from outlying areas to uptown. 

2,736

Hotel rooms developed from 2010 to 2020. The previous high was 1,495 rooms built in the 2010s. 

$4 billion

Don’t think the boom is slowing down: That’s the amount of planned development Charlotte Center City Partners estimates is still in the pipeline.