City of Charlotte and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority Open Doors to $126.9 Million Charlotte Convention Center Expansion Project
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 21, 2021) – Today the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA), construction partners, hospitality industry representatives and community leaders gathered for the official opening of the $126.9 million Charlotte Convention Center expansion. The event included a ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiling of a new public artwork, and featured remarks from Mayor Vi Lyles; Gaurav Gupte, past Chair of the Public Art Commission; and Tom Murray, Chief Executive Officer of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
The City of Charlotte and the CRVA broke ground on the expansion in December 2019 following several years of research, surveys, feedback and data-gathering. Designed in direct response to meeting planner needs, the expansion enhances the attendee experience and strengthens Charlotte’s competitiveness in the nearly $300 billion meetings and conventions industry through increased capacity, convenient accessibility and more flexible spaces. The nearly two-year-long construction project was successfully delivered on-time and on-budget.
The expansion construction presented several unique challenges. The design required expanding the building upward – adding meeting and event space onto the existing roof – which it was not built to accommodate when originally constructed more than 25 years ago. The venue is also one of only two convention centers in the country that has a light rail line running through it. Those two factors alone required extraordinary skill, coordination and planning. Then, the onset of the pandemic just a few months into the project created a working environment that no one could have anticipated nor prepared for, yet work progressed with robust health-conscious safety protocols in place ensuring that the construction timeline remained on track.
Built for Better Meetings
The Convention Center's expanded footprint means that Charlotte can attract not only larger events, but also creates the ability to layer multiple events in the venue simultaneously. The expansion added approximately 50,000 square feet of meeting room and pre-function space, taking the venue’s total leasable space to 600,000 square feet. The number of meeting rooms increased from 41 to 55 and now includes two highly-flexible 10,000-square-foot spaces, each divisible into 19 different configurations to meet a variety of client needs and capacity requirements. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the pre-function space with natural light, creating a welcoming atmosphere with views of the cityscape.
“After years of research, planning and construction, we are thrilled to finally celebrate the completion of this $126.9 million expansion and open the doors to the newest part of the Charlotte Convention Center,” said Murray. “As the trusted steward of the Charlotte region's visitor economy, the CRVA is incredibly proud of this milestone and the role it will play in attracting impactful business, increasing economic vitality and solidifying Charlotte's reputation as one of the premier meetings destinations in the Southeast.”
A primary component of the expansion is an exterior overstreet pedestrian walkway, which connects the Charlotte Convention Center to the adjacent 700-room Westin Charlotte, the city’s largest hotel, a LYNX Blue Line light rail stop, and provides access to the ever-expanding Stonewall Street corridor and Uptown Charlotte featuring 200-plus restaurants, more than 6,000 hotel rooms and countless entertainment options.
The walkway also includes a compelling public artwork that will draw visitors and residents alike to its immersive experience. Designed and engineered by the award-winning Narduli STUDIO, “SKYLINE” is a site-specific LED art installation created as part of the Charlotte Convention Center expansion. Los Angeles-based artist Susan Narduli’s artwork uses urban imagery and dynamic content to create a visual narrative of Charlotte based on the themes of Fabric of the Sky, Wind, City Lights, Night Sky and Hyper Objects.
“Arts and culture is one of the four key brand themes we use to promote the Queen City, and this is a wonderful addition to our region’s story,” said Murray. “I’m grateful to the entire team who brought ‘SKYLINE’ to life, and excited that this innovative piece is connected to the Charlotte Convention Center.”
Holder-Edison Foard-Leeper JV (H-EF-L) was the Construction Manager. TVS served as the project architect and was also the original designer of the Charlotte Convention Center. The Arts & Science Council administers the public art program for the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County; artist selection and designs are approved by the appointed Public Art Commission.
Creating Economic Opportunity
As part of the expansion, the City and CRVA partnered with H-EF-L to create and implement ambitious supplier diversity goals and a workforce development program. Over the course of the project, the team cultivated relationships with historically underutilized businesses to expand the supply chain to better reflect the diversity of guests, customers and the broader Charlotte community. Of the total construction project, 17 percent was spent with MBE firms and 11 percent was spent with W/SBE firms.
The team also used the project as an opportunity to give back to the community and strengthen and diversify the workforce pipeline through a project-based apprenticeship program. The program, which led to the hire of 50 new project construction workers, provided structured on-the-job learning, instruction and skills training in construction and other related building trades. Program graduates are eligible to earn state or national level credentials or certifications that enhance their hiring and wage potential. In 2020, H-EF-L was recognized as Minority Enterprise's Workforce Development Champion of the Year.
Elevating the Community
The expanded Charlotte Convention Center is a valuable community asset that helps raise national and international awareness and perception of the region. From the creative integration of the Charlotte crown into the new carpet to the stunning public artwork, the building is a representation of the Charlotte brand for the thousands of visitors each year who travel to the city for meetings, conventions and events – many experiencing the Queen City for the first time.
Since opening in 1995, the Charlotte Convention Center has welcomed more than 11 million guests from around the world and served as the Charlotte region's preferred venue for conventions, trade shows, conferences, nonprofit and community celebrations, product launches, sporting events and more. The Center has played host to six U.S. presidents, served as a backdrop for three movies and one television show, and has had boats, cars, helicopters and even cattle on display in its exhibit halls. It has earned business from prestigious national events such as the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend, a driver of $87.7 million in economic impact for the region.
Separate from leisure travel to the region, meetings and events hosted by the CRVA in FY19 (pre-pandemic) attracted more than 550,000 visitors to the Queen City, producing 557,000+ room nights at local hotels and $255.1 million in direct visitor spending at area businesses.
Prior to the pandemic, the region’s travel and tourism industry had experienced 10 consecutive years of growth, generating $7.8 billion in direct visitor spending, employing 147,000 residents and producing more than $125 million in hospitality tax collections in 2019. Nearly 30 million visitors traveled to the Queen City in 2019, supporting local businesses, attractions, restaurants and hotels across the region. Visitor spending and hospitality tax collections support some of the most defining community assets, including Bank of America Stadium, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Levine Center for the Arts, Spectrum Center, Truist Field and Discovery Place.
About the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) works to deliver experiences that uniquely enrich the lives of our visitors and residents. Through leadership in destination development, marketing and venue management expertise, the CRVA leads efforts to maximize the region’s economic potential through visitor spending, creating jobs and opportunities for the community. Brands supported by the CRVA include the Charlotte Convention Center, Spectrum Center, Bojangles Entertainment Complex, Ovens Auditorium, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Regional Film Commission and Visit Charlotte in conjunction with the region’s destination marketing brand. For more information, visit charlottesgotalot.com.
About the City of Charlotte
The City of Charlotte provides services to more than 874,000 residents. The city's priorities are workforce and business development; transportation, planning and the environment; safe communities; and great neighborhoods. Charlotte is No. 6 on U.S. News & World Report’s 150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2020-21. For the latest news and updates about city government, visit the citywide newsroom at charlottenc.gov/newsroom, and follow @CLTgov on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Holder–Edison Foard–Leeper, a Joint Venture
Holder–Edison Foard–Leeper is more than a construction company. We are a group of individuals with a passion to enhance the communities we serve through our work. The joint venture consists of Holder Construction, Edison Foard, Inc. and R.J. Leeper Construction.
TVS is an award-winning architecture and interior design firm headquartered in Atlanta, GA with global project expertise. Our team of experts listens intently, solves creatively and delivers reliably to make remarkable design easy. TVS engages honed perspectives across healthcare, workplace interiors and corporate office, hospitality, convention center, mixed-use, sports, cultural arts, education, retail and multifamily residential to deliver design solutions that meet the complex challenges of the 21st century. Founded in 1968, the 100% employee-owned firm has offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Tampa. Having worked in 28 countries and 46 states, districts and territories within the U.S., TVS creates high performance, high impact environments that help individuals, businesses and communities thrive. For more information, please visit tvsdesign.com or join the social conversation @tvsdesign.
ASC is the chief advocate, resource hub and steward for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region’s cultural community. Its core functions include advocacy, cultural education programs, cultural planning, fundraising, grant making, public art and workshops and trainings for the cultural community. ASC works to ensure Culture For All by combining resources from local and state government with those of the private sector to maximize community impact throughout the cultural sector. ASC’s mission is to invest in the people, programs and ideas that move us toward a more equitable, sustainable and innovative creative ecosystem. Stay up to date on ASC news and happenings at ArtsAndScience.org and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.