Atrium Health breaks ground on innovation district in Uptown Charlotte

Atrium Health’s new innovation district officially broke ground on Tuesday in Uptown Charlotte. The new district will be known as “The Pearl” and will be the future home to Wake Forest University School of Medicine Charlotte.

The district will include apartments, a hotel, and four research towers.

Hundreds gathered to watch the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning.

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“We will be able to provide training to even more students, many of whom come from diverse backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine,” said Julie Freischlag of Atrium Health.

Developers believe the new project will put the Queen City on the map.

There are big goals with The Pearl. It’s projected to create more than 5,000 jobs, and nearly half of them won’t require a college degree.

The new jobs could bring higher wages that would help with economic mobility, according to Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston.

“This is going to develop over a generation, so it really gives us an opportunity to put those strategies on the map,” said Winston.

The Pearl District is centrally located and there are plans to also create paths and greenways in the surrounding area, including the Cherry and Dilworth neighborhoods.

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One resident who lives in the area is excited about the growth of the area but worried he may be forced out if the new project makes the area unaffordable.

“Everybody is thinking of where they’re going to put us, where they’re going to place us, you know,” Michael Hames said.

However, councilman Winston says the city is committed to making sure that won’t happen. He’s also confident the district will be worth the investment.

“This is just one of those growing pains, how do you keep this affordable, right?” said Winston.

The district will be built in an area of Charlotte formerly known as Brooklyn. For years, Brooklyn was an area where thriving Black businesses, faith communities, and families lived, worked, and played. The neighborhood was also near the Good Samaritan Hospital in Charlotte’s Third Ward, a Black hospital that had hundreds of workers.

The project comes with a price tag of $1.5 billion. Mecklenburg County will reimburse 90% of new property taxes over the next 15 years, totaling $30 million.

The Pearl is expected to be up and running by 2025.

(WATCH BELOW: Name of Atrium’s new innovation district honors former Black Charlotte neighborhood)