Early renderings show Hornets practice facility as high-rise


City staff on Monday shared a glimpse of a proposed Charlotte Hornets practice facility in uptown.

Early renderings show a high-rise building for the NBA team where the existing Charlotte Transportation Center stands today, towering over the Spectrum Center.

The images stem from a proposal by the Hornets and city of Charlotte staff last week to make $215 million in Spectrum Center renovations along with a $60 million practice facility that would be paid for by naming rights for a proposed new sports and entertainment district in the surrounding area.

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A high-rise building that would contain a practice facility for the Charlotte Hornets stands next to the Spectrum Center in this rendering presented to city officials on Monday. Screenshot from city of Charlotte presentation

District 7 Councilman Ed Driggs expressed concern Monday night the funding for the practice facility is not set in stone.

Under the proposed deal, the city of Charlotte would extend its lease with the Charlotte Hornets to 2045. The existing lease is set to expire in 2030. In the proposed deal, the Hornets would begin paying $2 million per year in rent in 2030 and $1.1 million in capital investments beginning in 2024.

Construction is expected to begin this summer on the renovations and practice facility. Work could take four years.

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A rendering shows the inside of a proposed high-rise building in place of the Charlotte Transportation Center next to the Spectrum Center. The Charlotte Hornets would have a practice facility inside. Screenshot from city of Charlotte presentation.

The city’s economic development committee discussed the project Monday afternoon, and the City Council followed suit during its regularly scheduled meeting. A Charlotte City Council vote is expected Monday, June 13. The public is allowed to sign up to speak during the public comment period at next week’s meeting.

Driggs and District 6 Councilman Tariq Bokhari both said they feared council isn’t being transparent enough about the project.

“I wanna keep the team here,” Driggs said. “I just think we have a little more work to do to present this thing properly to the public.”

City of Charlotte CFO Teresa Smith said about 60% of public feedback received has been positive.

The new practice facility would include two full basketball courts, expanded locker room space and a health care space. Renderings show the practice facility replacing the existing Charlotte Transportation Center, moving the bus facility underground.

The rest of the tower would be filled with parking and “to be determined” development on the top floors.

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The design of a temporary bus station in uptown Charlotte. The existing Charlotte Transportation Center could become the site of a high-rise building. Screenshot from city of Charlotte presentation

There will be a temporary bus station built during the several years of construction on the transit and practice facility building, documents presented to the economic development committee show.

Plan B, according to the original presentation, is to build the practice facility in the existing gravel lot beside the stadium.

The money for renovations will come from the city’s tourism dollars — rental car sales tax or hotel occupancy rate tax, for example — and won’t affect the city’s general fund budget, according to Smith.

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This image shows the Spectrum Center, where the Charlotte Hornets play, the Charlotte Transportation Center and the Epicenter, which is being sold. The city hopes a renovated Spectrum Center, new practice facility, renovated transportation facility and sale of the Epicenter will transform the area into a new Uptown district. City of Charlotte

Renovations from the $215 million pool would include:

  • entryways
  • bathrooms
  • escalators
  • elevators
  • new HVAC systems
  • plumbing repairs
  • roof repairs

This story was originally published June 7, 2022 6:00 AM.

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Genna Contino covers local government for the Observer, where she works to inform and serve people living in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. She attended the University of South Carolina and grew up in Rock Hill.

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