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Everything you need to know about The RailYard in South End

By Jessica Swannie  |  Writer  Charlotte Five

The Rail Yard Yard 696X464

Photo by Jessica Swannie

Spaces like the Design Center and Atherton Mill blend South End’s industrial past with a vision of the future, creating an epicenter for restaurants, retail and popular breweries serving Charlotte’s young professionals. 

The RailYard, one of the most recent additions to the South End skyline at 1414 S. Tryon St., brings yet another distinct vision of architecture to the space, complemented by modern-day amenities and tastes.

Beacon Partners, the commercial real estate development company behind the concept, worked with architecture firm The RBA Group to execute a modern design, while still paying homage to the district’s history. We captured a first look at the space and caught up with Christopher Allred, principal at The RBA Group, to learn about the idea behind the concept.

[Related: Your guide to what’s coming to South End—from The Railyard to The Design Center]

Fusing history with innovation

South End’s rich industrial history served as the blueprint for The RailYard project.

“From the Rudisill Gold Mine to the 19th century mills that dotted the district, South End’s history and its importance to Charlotte’s development is well known,” Allred said. “Introducing a project of this scale to the district, we believed should speak to its history as well as its future.”

The RBA Group accomplished its vision by drawing on the brick vernacular of the mill buildings that once shaped South End and juxtaposing it with forward-thinking architecture to blend the new space with the current neighborhood fabric.

Once Beacon Partners decided to name the mixed-use space The RailYard, The RBA Group sought inspiration from the architecture of the turn-of-the-century rail yard houses, which were designed to create a pseudo-central plaza of rail beds. The RBA Group used this aesthetic to blend the retail facades and pedestrian patterns into the space. Look for a literal interpretation of the rail yard aesthetic in the trestle that creates the upper portion of the central connector between the two towers.

“Our hope is that its sensitivity to the neighborhood, as well as how it addresses both the skyline and the pedestrian scale equally, influences future work in the district and helps preserve and strengthen the unique character of South End,” Allred said. “Understanding that valuable spaces are not only those that are leasable but also those that are good for the public realm ultimately pay long term dividends.”

For locals tired of the iconic beige that’s come to dominate Charlotte’s recent architectural changes, The RailYard will come as a welcome change.

“One doesn’t have to look far to see the value in stepping away from the norm and the beige, and Charlotte is dotted with wonderful examples,” Allred said.  

Reimagined offices

The RBA Group and Beacon Partners shared a vision for the office space, which would provide a unique environment for forward-thinking companies.

“Our expertise in (what we call) ‘lifestyle design’ allows us to step away from the traditional corporate lobby and focus the layout and feel more toward that of a hub for the overall project,” Allred said. He continued by sharing that the space was deigned to feel “more familiar to current apartment trends and hotel lobbies that one might expect in a corporate environment.”

The office space is currently 100% leased to tenants including Allstate, Ernst & Young, Slalom and WeWork. Look for retail leases from North Italia (from the same restaurant group that just brought us Flower Child), Rhino Market & Deli, Orangetheory Fitness and more. 

[Related: Rhino Market is coming to South End, plus other updates on The RailYard mixed-use project]

The RBA Group sought to move the traditional open floor plan of an office in a new direction, eliminating “core areas” of the conventional creative workspace and designing a concept with unobstructed views of from one end of the office to another. It took into consideration today’s office trends, specifically those that offer workspace options outside of the traditional desk and chair (think: common areas with sofas, standing desks, communal tables, flex areas). 

“Understanding that these typical spaces would be part of the traditional office interior, we considered how the architecture might respond to provide these opportunities,” Allred said. “Sculpting the exterior building mass to create terraces, balconies and quiet corners, not commonly found in traditional office design, greatly expands the options for alternative  workspace to include indoor/outdoor spaces that enjoy incredible views of the project plaza and the Charlotte skyline.”

Allred cited the forward-thinking qualities of Beacon Partners’ Mike Harrell and Matt Lucarelli as the driving forces behind the innovative space. 

“Their willingness to step away from the typical full block office tower, and allowing the plaza to encroach into the build able area, as well as including a 30-foot door that opens the side of the lobby to the plaza, highlights their dedication to creating a special project,” Allred shared.

The amenities

Tenants will enjoy a multitude of amenities designed to cater to young professionals. The Yard, a 15,000-square-foot urban courtyard that separates the north and south towers, provides space to relax, eat lunch or listen to music after work hours.

Restaurants and retail will serve The Yard, which will act as a pre-function forecourt and connect to the parking deck. 

Grand Central, a large indoor lobby area connected to The Yard, creates almost a half-acre of furnished, open-air gathering space. An eye catching mural created by Osiris Rain serves as the focal point of the space. 

Once completed, Grand Central will offer a gathering space for tenants.

Rustic wooden doors will open into a space that’s yet to be completed. 

Tenants will also enjoy rooftop sky terraces with remarkable views of South End, Uptown and Dilworth, as well as a 2,500-square-foot state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor and outdoor bike storage, and floor-to-ceiling glass throughout the space.

The RailYard’s location played a key role in attracting tenants, given its proximity to the light rail and nearby restaurants, breweries and retail. 

Looking ahead

Centro RailYard Apartments, a 91-unit, five-level micro-unit project, will wrap around the parking deck, providing modern amenities to renters in South End. Look for 400-square-foot studio apartments and 800-square-foot two-bedroom corner units with balconies. Centro Cityworks is behind the project, which is currently under construction and will be managed by Ascent Real Estate Partners. It’s slated to open in February 2020.

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