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November Luncheon Summary: The Evolving Story of Center City Retail with Chris Hemans of Charlotte Center City Partners
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November Luncheon Summary: The Evolving Story of Center City Retail with Chris Hemans of Charlotte Center City Partners

November Luncheon Summary: The Evolving Story of Center City Retail with Chris Hemans of Charlotte Center City Partners

Center City Charlotte has experienced significant growth over the past five years. Yet, retail has continued to lag behind the office and residential development. Chris Hemans, Director of Retail of Charlotte Center City Partners, discussed the past, present and future of retail in Charlotte Center City.

Chris Hemans, Director of Retail

As Director of Retail, Christopher Hemans is responsible for collaborating with local and state partners to attract new retail to Uptown and South End. He brings over a decade of experience working in economic development, public policy, and community development. Hemans has extensive experience in working closely with public officials, private sector leaders, commercial real estate brokers and community stakeholders.

Most recently, Hemans led business recruitment efforts within the City of Charlotte’s business corridor geography. Before moving to Charlotte, Hemans was an Assistant Commissioner with the City of Chicago where he managed the Retail Chicago program.

A native of Evanston, Illinois, Chris holds an M.S. degree from the Newhouse School of Broadcast Journalism at Syracuse University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Chris is a member of ULI, ICSC, IEDC and 100 Black Men of Charlotte and recently served on the board of the Stratford Richardson YMCA. Chris also is the newest member of CREW!

Charlotte Center City Partners

Our vision is for Charlotte’s Center City to be viable, livable, memorable, and sustainable, with modern infrastructure, a tapestry of unique neighborhoods, and a diversity of thriving businesses. We envision and implement strategies and actions to drive the economic, social and cultural development of Charlotte’s Center City.

The vision is the continuation of the growth of our city as pedestrian-friendly and walkable, with comfortable and interesting neighborhoods. It must have mixed growth, with balanced initiatives that are leveraged by public and private investment.

Retail: The Past

The corner of Trade and Tryon was a busy marketplace in the early part of the 20th Century with Belk opening in 1910 and Ivey’s following in 1924, growing to a total of five department stores by the 1950s.

With Independence Boulevard’s opening in 1947 Charlotte became a vehicle dominant city with housing moving out into the suburbs and shopping soon followed. Park Road Shopping Center opened in 1955, followed by South Park and Eastland in the early 1970s. Downtown lost retail during this period and street parking in the downtown area became a thing of the past.

Retail: The Present

Retail is thriving in Charlotte with strong expansion in SouthEnd, but remains limited uptown. While there is just over two million square feet of retail space, half of that is made up of bars and restaurants.

Drivers of retail are:

  • Location (with ground floor space being the predominant requirement)

    • Which is lacking in the uptown market

  • Income

    • $75,000 is the average household income in the uptown market

  • Density

    • 13,500 residents in the uptown market

    • 100,000 employees within the I-277 loop

    • 12 million visitors annual

  • Co-Tenancy

    • There is a need for pioneers in the market

  • Retail-Oriented Parking

    • Seen or perceived as lacking in the uptown market
    • Adding SouthEnd into the numbers brings another 1.4 million square feet, an additional 12,800 employees, and an additional 6,300 residents with a slightly higher average income of $78,000.

Retail: The Future

There is a push to celebrate our existing retailers – those in Overstreet Mall, Latta Arcade and sprinkled throughout uptown http://files.charlottecentercity.org/ShopUptown-Q315.pdf

Additional pop up shopping programs are underway including “werkinprogress” November 30th through December 6th at Epicenter and “Tinsel Box” December 2nd through the 4th. A third event is in the planning stages for Latta Arcade (CREW Member Jackie Sherard mentioned her retail store, Canvas, located in Latta Arcade.)

Vintage Charlotte, a marketplace for retailers operates twice per year in uptown as well.

Atherton Mills has announced a $100 million project and Whole Foods on Stonewall will be a reality in coming months. Independence Center is in talks regarding expanded retail area and the Levine project in First Ward is expected to drive more development in the area.

Chris closed letting everyone know that Charlotte Center City Partners will continue its efforts to provide proof of concepts for retail, assist in creating space, identify and recruit retailers to uptown and undertake the research necessary to grow the retail presence.