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Atrium Health’s Charlotte ‘innovation district’ plans get a boost from City Council

innovation district plan screenshot 2 city council 112221.jpg
city of Charlotte
A presentation given to Charlotte City Council on Nov. 22, 2021, shows plans for Atrium Health's proposed "innovation district."

Charlotte City Council voted unanimously Monday to help fund infrastructure for what Atrium Health is calling an “innovation district.”

Mecklenburg County commissioners still need to approve the county’s portion of the incentives, which combined with the city's portion would be about $75 million. Commissioners are expected to hold their vote in December.

innovation district plan screenshot 1 city council 112221.jpg
city of Charlotte
A presentation presented to Charlotte City Council on Nov. 22, 2021, shows plans for Atrium Health's proposed "innovation district."

Monday’s council vote authorizes the city manager to negotiate a contract with the innovation district’s management company to reimburse part of the $75 million for public infrastructure and parking. Some of those infrastructure projects include improving intersections, building new roads, water and sewer upgrades, and burying power lines.

“Our investment in the infrastructure is really what sets up the campus to be successful,” said Assistant City Manager Tracy Dodson. “If they are growing and attracting the businesses here that they anticipate, the infrastructure has to be in place. You can’t build it all fast enough to keep up.”

The 26-acre innovation district is part of Atrium’s planned medical school in midtown Charlotte. It will include research and education facilities as well as housing. Atrium says the plan includes at least 100 affordable housing units on a 14-acre site on North Tryon near the light rail.

At a previous City Council meeting earlier this month, Atrium CEO Gene Woods said the economic boost of the district could be upwards of $500 million.

“We’re looking at creating 5,500 jobs and a half a billion dollars in annual economic contributions and earnings,” Woods said. “And then at full maturity including the surrounding communities over 11,000 jobs and $800 million of earnings.”

Construction on the district could start as early as next year, and the medical school is expected to open in 2024.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.