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Atrium Health seeks $75M investment from Charlotte for 26-acre medical school in Dilworth

The City Council is scheduled to vote later this month on proving public money for Atrium Health's new medical school and "Innovation District."
The City Council is scheduled to vote later this month on proving public money for Atrium Health's new medical school and "Innovation District."

Atrium Health would begin construction on a new medical school and what's being billed as an “innovation district” in Dilworth in the second quarter of 2022, assuming the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County support the project with $75 million.

The City Council discussed the project Monday night.

It would be built on 26 acres on the edge of uptown, at the intersection of Baxter and McDowell streets.

The city’s economic development director, Tracy Dodson, said it would be one of the largest projects the city has seen. The public money, she said, would pay for infrastructure.

“It’s everything from intersection improvements to new roads, utilities with storm drainage and water and sewer,” Dodson said. “There is also a significant high-tension power line that needs to be buried. All of this paves the way so we can create this campus.”

Atrium CEO Gene Woods said the economic impact would be more than a half-billion dollars. Atrium plans to have spin-off research and development businesses and facilities near the medical school.

“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.”

Charlotte is the largest city in the nation without a four-year medical school. Atrium is partnering with Wake Forest School of Medicine to create the school.

Dodson said the City Council will vote on the public funds later this month. Council members toured a similar “innovation district” in Winston-Salem last week.

Construction on the district would begin in the second quarter of 2022. The medical school would open in 2024.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.