Liz O’Connell – Staff Writer, Charlotte Business Journal
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 Co.’s location at Central Square was among the most recent closures there, shuttering Nov. 14, following Elizabeth Billiards, 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 Commonwealth, Bobby Speir, senior vice president of acquisitions at Crosland Southeast, said today.
Charlotteans took to social media with a range of opinions when news of the redevelopment first broke. Some claimed the development would take away from Plaza Midwood’s identity or history would be lost.
But Councilman Larken Egleston, whose district covers Plaza Midwood, said he has been adamant on 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 Central and Pecan avenues will be added, making the development a walkable live-work-play area.