BREAKING: Lowe's picks Charlotte for 2,000-job tech center

Too bad, Dallas — Charlotte is proving it can land tech jobs

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New boost for South End: 23-story Lowe’s tower, hundreds and hundreds of tech workers

In a move that will keep South End humming, Lowe’s Cos. said Thursday that it is locating a tech hub in a new 23-story tower to be built right by the light rail line’s East/West Boulevard station.

Charlotte had been battling with Dallas to land the tech hub, which the home-improvement retailer said could eventually employ 2,000 tech workers here. Get ready for more scooters and noodle bars — and even higher rents and worse parking in the uptown and South End areas.

Lowe’s is going to need a lot of home-improvement materials to built its 23-story tower for tech workers in South End.

Altering perceptions: The selection of Charlotte could also help shift the perception of the city as a major technology center. In the minds of many people, including some locally, Charlotte is a mere banking town, with real tech work being done in places such as the Triangle, Austin, Boston and Silicon Valley. But in truth, as The Ledger reported this month, tech is emerging as a strength in Charlotte. The city is on track to surpass the Triangle in the number of tech workers in the next year or two, and it is becoming a bona fide tech hub.

The addition of the tower and the jobs are the latest evidence that high-rise buildings are spilling out of uptown. At 23 stories, the Lowe’s tower, to be called the Design Center Tower, will be the tallest in that immediate area. Tech/finance company LendingTree has also announced plans to locate its HQ in South End, in an 11-story tower on South Tryon Street.

Office construction in South End has been on an absolute tear lately, with inventory up 40% in the last four years.

The site of the future Lowe’s tower is at Camden Road at West Worthington Avenue, across from the Design Center in South End, on land that is now a surface parking lot. (Google Maps)

The Biz Journal and Observer both have fine articles out this afternoon with a lot of the details — and a lot of renderings of the building (and of all the cool people hanging around it). If you want to know more, you should check them out. Here’s a sampling.

Observer:

The 375,000-square-foot office is a joint venture between Childress Klein and Ram Realty Advisors. The developers plan to break ground in August, and the goal is to open the facility in late 2021, according to Lowe’s. …

The building site is adjacent to the Lynx Blue Line light rail and Rail Trail. The property is currently a surface parking lot on Worthington Avenue across from the Design Center.

Lowe’s will be hiring for a number of roles, including software and infrastructure engineers, data scientists, analysts, architects, user experience and user interface professionals, and technologists with artificial intelligence and machine learning engineering experience, the company said.

Salaries will vary, but Lowe’s said the average annual pay for the new positions will be more than $117,000.

Incentives: The Lowe’s project is “made possible through a state incentives grant of $54 million, to paid over 12 years as long as Lowe’s meets its job creation and investment targets,” the Observer reported.

Business Journal:

Marvin Ellison, president and CEO of Lowe’s, says the company was looking to ensure that it can attract employees with technical skills by locating in Charlotte and near transit. …

“We’re excited to stand up our new global technology center here in North Carolina to continue to drive our company’s growth,” he says. “Locating our new facility in the heart of Charlotte, the state’s largest metropolitan area, will enable Lowe’s to attract top technology talent and foster collaboration with our teams in our nearby Mooresville headquarters. This team will create technology solutions that will accelerate our commitment to becoming a best-in-class, omni-channel retailer and strengthen our associate and customer experiences.”

No word yet from Dallas, which was last seen boasting that it has 3x as many tech workers as Charlotte.

We’ll share any responses with you in tomorrow’s regular edition of the Ledger.


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The Charlotte Ledger is published by Tony Mecia, an award-winning former Charlotte Observer business reporter and editor. He lives in Charlotte with his wife and three children.