City North owner says new project will yield ‘broad economic benefits’

Several Black-owned businesses will be displaced, but new owner say his firm is working to make transition easier.

Colin-Brothers-founder-Artesia-Real-Estate

Colin Brothers

Like many other businesses, Artesia Real Estate was drawn to Charlotte for the many traits that make the city so dynamic, including its workforce, talent pool, quality of life, low taxes, climate, scenery, access to mountains and the coast, and hospitality.

As a real estate investment company, we also saw a tremendous economic opportunity here.

Our company specializes in finding under-utilized properties in high-growth zones and making capital and other improvements to enhance their value and performance. Typically, we invest in projects that are undergoing rapid transformation, preferably urban projects that are “anchored” by large re-developments.

That’s what led us to City North Business Center. We were drawn to its proximity to uptown along the burgeoning North Tryon corridor, as well as the new light rail line and nearby projects such as Camp North End, Optimist Hall, Chadbourn Mill and the AvidXchange Music Factory.

We plan to completely re-envision the site into providing creative space for a mix of office and retail tenants. The new project will be called “General Assembly.”

general-assembly-rendering-former-charlotte-city-north-biz-center

City North Business Center will transform into General Assembly, an adaptive re-use space for offices and retail. Rendering via Redline Design Group

This adaptive re-use fits in well with the city’s push for re-development along North Tryon Street into higher density uses. That plan includes three parcels designated as “catalyst sites” across the street from the City North property, intended as major redevelopment opportunities that could stimulate additional private investment along the corridor.

Although the nature of our work is disruptive, we are sensitive to the potential impact on people’s lives. The rapid change occurring around City North will affect area residents and businesses. In response, we are striving to deliver broad economic benefit while doing a better job caring for tenants than others might expect or provide.

Our redevelopment plans for “General Assembly” include attracting large office users, which is fundamentally different from what City North offered. As a result, existing tenants will be displaced during construction and few, if any, will return when the new project opens. We are doing our best to assist these tenants by allowing additional time and flexibility for their transition planning and providing help in finding suitable spaces to relocate.

Most tenants understand the situation and have reacted positively. They also appreciate that we are making every effort to accommodate their requests and needs during the transition.

Artesia is committed to responsible growth and expanded opportunities for all of Charlotte. We are also a civic-minded company that cares about the flourishment of the broader communities where we invest. This commitment includes, but is not limited to, team members volunteering at food banks, soup kitchens, shelters for the underprivileged and rescue missions for the vulnerable. Additionally, our company provides charitable support for nonprofit organizations that work to address a wide range of social needs from homelessness and foster care to inner-city youth sports programs and sex trafficking.

Our ideal project marries economic vitality in the market with a profitable investment for our investors. Success is measured in creating new jobs, higher wages and increased value for nearby property owners and businesses. That is our vision and vow for General Assembly, and everything else we do in Charlotte going forward.


Editor’s note: This op-ed is related to the “Tenants react to vacate notice for Charlotte’s City North Business Center, some point to gentrification” article originally published on March 6, 2019.

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