Business leaders in Charlotte are expecting unprecedented growth in the coming years, making it an attractive place to live, with ample job opportunities for recent graduates and young professionals. In 2006 and 2007, more than 50 projects were slated for construction, representing an investment of $5.6 billion of development activity, encompassing more than 8,524 housing units, 1.2 million square feet of retail space and 4.1 million square feet of office space.
Charlotte’s Center City is witnessing major expansions. This years’ opening of EpiCenter, an uptown entertainment and retail destination, will add 265,000 square feet of retail space, a 50-story condominium tower, 60,000 square feet of office space and a Starwood aloft hotel to complement the neighboring Charlotte Bobcats Arena. The Metropolitan, which broke ground in 2006, will house 500,000 square feet of shops and restaurants as well as residential and office space. The NASCAR Hall of Fame, to be completed in 2009, will house a convention center, ballroom and office tower. The venue is projected to generate nearly $62 million a year in revenue, create 1,000 new jobs and draw 550,000 visitors per year — good news for the hospitality sector.
Since projects such as these, and many more, will attract new residents and visitors in droves, city planners realize that this population will need more dining, entertainment and hotel options. “New ‘urbanites’ are moving in, looking for the amenities of city life and our Center City will offer more than 110 restaurants, 50 nightspots, 50 cultural amenities and premier sports and entertainment facilities,” said Michael Smith, president and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners, which promotes the economic and cultural development of the urban core. “Uptown boasts 3,800 hotel rooms, with four hotels being added over the next four years.”
Johnson & Wales is expected to play an integral part in Charlotte’s growth. “JWU faculty and graduates are already making their mark on Charlotte’s hospitality community with their expertise and innovative flair,” said Smith. “As we continue to expand our Central Business District to include a more vibrant urban neighborhood and a center for shopping, hospitality and entertainment, we know JWU will be a big part of that team.”