The reports of South End’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Yes, the area is changing rapidly. Yes, Charlotte has said goodbye to favorites like the Common Market and Phat Burrito.
But even half a decade into the redevelopment of South End, some of the biggest changes are yet to come. A number of them will come from a single developer: Asana Partners.
This is the company that owns the Design Center for the Carolinas, the Phat Burrito lot and a number of properties on Tremont and Hawkins.
Their quest is to turn it into a cohesive district within South End. Their concept is simple: people first.
Introducing, the Design District
Prepare for this name to roll off the tongue in a few years.
The Design District will be made up of a portfolio of properties in the South End area that Asana has acquired over the past year — with the Design Center of the Carolinas as its crown jewel and centerpiece.
Asana’s plan is to reuse historic, gritty, funky and cool old buildings to push forward their people-first agenda. It’s not about tearing down history and building beige apartments.
Here is a quick breakdown of the properties that will make up the Design District.
- Design Center – 170,000 square feet
- 200 W. Tremont – 17,000 square feet
- 307 W. Tremont – 45,000 square feet
- 2116 Hawkins St. – 37,000 square feet
- 1515 and 1537 Camden (Phat Burrito-Art League buildings) – 15,000 square feet
This gives Asana about 300,000 square feet of space to work with in enhancing the area. This is massive.
To put it in perspective, it’s about the size of the retail space at the EpiCentre. It’s bigger than the retail space at Waverly in south Charlotte and about the same as what’s expected in Brooklyn Village in Second Ward.
Here’s a brief look at the plans for the properties, one by one.
We all know this property — it’s the gorgeous old building that currently houses Pike’s Soda Shop and Byron’s South End.
Asana plans to turn this property into the heart of the Design District, with an astonishing 170,000 square feet of retail and office space.
Two restaurants — Barcelona Wine Bar and Superica — have already announced that they’re coming to the Design Center and are under construction. That’s driven a ton of interest from other food and beverage concepts as well as clothing retailers.
The plan is to make the entire building completely interactive, with a giant patio on Camden Road and an alleyway leading to shops, cocktail bars, other restaurants and even more office space.
It will be a mini campus buzzing with activity from the time most of us wake up until the time most of us go to sleep.
That patio on Camden is going to be a sight to behold. Look for a stand-alone kiosk/café space that will really invite in people walking by.
200 West Tremont (currently the South End Interiors building)
This is that funky-looking building at Hawkins and Tremont. Currently, Asana Partners is working on securing two restaurant tenants for the ground floor in addition to Jamie Scott Fitness.
This is already a way cool building, but Asana’s enhancements will bring it to the next level by opening up the ground floor with glass.
307 West Tremont
This building is right betwen the building that will house Common Market, Zeppelin and Bang Bang Bites and a brand new apartment complex from Pollack Shores.
The old warehouse currently on the property has a ton of character and a ton of available space to fill. There will be a lot of patio space that will complement the surrounding retail.
2116 Hawkins Street
You’ve probably seen this property on your walk to Sycamore Brewing: It’s an old brick warehouse with some office tenants in it at the moment. There is, however, more than 20,000 square feet of available space, and Asana hopes to add a restaurant.
There is a beautiful, ivy-covered walkway along the side of this building that seems tailor-made for a year round patio.
This is a property I am sure you are all familiar with — the old Phat Burrito building and Art League buildings. This is the “gateway” to the Design District from the north and will really set the tone as you explore the entire area.
The old Phat Burrito parking lot will turn into green space with a patio. The Rail Trail side will be cleaned up as well.
With this and the Dimensional Fund Advisors headquarters building across the street, Camden Road will be 100% cornered with retail and patio space from the Tryon Street split to Park Avenue. It is going to be an incredible entry to the area and the experience will be unlike anything Charlotte has seen before.
So what does all this mean?
On the surface, it probably just sounds like Asana Partners got some random properties and plans to do some cool adaptive reuse projects. On the surface, that’s correct. But together, it will mean so much more — especially paired with what’s happening on Camden Road outside of Asana’s properties.
[Agenda story: Camden corridor transforming into the new center of South End]
Don’t forget, you already have Price’s Chicken Coop, 1616 Center (which is now fully leased with Fidelli, Clean Juice, 704 Shop and Leroy Fox) and Central Coffee.
Then you have Camden Gallery, which is also fully leased with Bulgogi Box, Blue Hem, Blaze Pizza, Ultra Running Co. and Pop The Top Craft Beer Shop.
Continuing on the journey, you run into the dead end of Camden Road. To the left is Atherton Mill, which has quite the impressive tenant mix of its own. To the right, you continue down the into the heart of the Design District.
All this put together is much more than just a few buildings Asana Partners acquired. While they aren’t responsible for everything you’ll experience on a walking tour through the area, Asana will be the glue that holds it all together.
Think of it as a neighborhood within a neighborhood. The idea is that you can spend an entire day in the area and have everything you could possibly want.
This will really be the first area in Charlotte with this much pedestrian activity and on this large of a scale.
As far as timeline goes, Asana is wasting no time. As tenants are signed, permits are being filed for.
I would expect to have the entire district fully operational by late 2018, but we will see the first heartbeats (beyond what already exists) earlier next year.
Note: renderings do not represent the final product or actual tenants. All renderings courtesy of 505 Designs.