Developers behind the $40 million Tompkins Hall project in Optimist Park say construction should kick off in April.

The Tompkins Hall mixed-use Development in the Optimist Park neighborhood will include restaurant, retail, and office space inside of a turn-of-the-venture textile mill.

The Tompkins Hall mixed-use Development in the Optimist Park neighborhood will include restaurant, retail, and office space inside of a turn-of-the-venture textile mill.

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Expect that adaptive reuse project to be complete by the end of next year, with the first tenants moving in during the first quarter of 2018, says Jay Levell, a partner at White Point Partners.

White Point and Atlanta-based Paces Properties have teamed up on that project.

In total, the project will include nearly 135,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space. Plans call for more than 20,000 square feet to be dedicated to a food hall.

“The original vision was basically filling a couple of different voids we thought existed in the marketplace,” Levell says.

Adds David Cochran, president and CEO of Paces Properties: “We’re building a place here. The breadth and size of this development will allow it to become its own place if its done right.”

That turn-of the-century textile mill sits on an 11.9 acre parcel on E. 16th Street in Charlotte’s Optimist Park neighborhood. It’s just on the outskirts of town and in close proximity to the light rail, boasting views of the uptown skyline, Levell says.

“We felt it was very important to find something that was unique to the fabric of the city,” he adds.

The mill dates to the 1890s, with a number of different additions made to the facility through the years. The goal is to revitalize many of its original features, such as the hardwood floors and high ceilings. The building’s smokestack dates to 1895.

“We were able to find this building that was just kind of a hidden gem,” says Levell.

The success of 7th Street Public Market has shown there’s demand for a food hall, says Adam Williams with Legacy Real Estate Advisors.

He’s marketing the restaurant and retail space at Tompkins Hall.

“I think we have a really exciting opportunity you don’t see every day in Charlotte,” he adds.

The eclectic nature of the project makes it appealing. He received interest across the board, from hard- and soft-goods retailers to restaurants.

The food hall will provide a unique niche. It will allow budding restaurateurs to test their concepts for a fraction of the cost of a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

“I think there’s pent-up demand,” Williams says.

Plans for the food hall call for up to 20 different concepts to be grouped in that space. Each will take roughly 500 square feet — with some wiggle room to make adjustments — and share common space for dining.

The flexibility of the design provides an opportunity for restaurants as well as up-and-coming chefs to try new and different things, Cochran says.

He was involved in the development a similar food hall project in Atlanta called Krog Street Market.

“It’s almost like a stepping stone or incubator of sorts,” he says.

Those that do well may consider expanding into brick-and-mortar space the future, Cochran adds.

Plans also call for as many as six anchor restaurants at the site. More than 31,000 square feet have been set aside for retail and restaurant concepts as well as bars, a taproom and entertainment space.

“It’s somewhere we want people to keep coming back to,” Levell says.

A 7,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard and terrace area will be at the heart of the project.

More than 83,000 square feet of office space is available. Charley Leavitt and Tom FitzGerald at JLL (NYSE: JLL) are marketing the project’s office component.

Originally posted on Charlotte Business Journal by Jennifer Thomas