Anything that brings foodie favorites together under one roof is bound to get the city’s attention, and Optimist Hall’s latest tenant announcement on Monday afternoon was no exception.
Optimist Hall (once called Tompkins Hall) is a 146,000 square foot redevelopment of a former mill, built in 1892, that will include a food hall, retail, restaurants and office space. It’s just a block away from the Parkwood Station of the LYNX Light Rail.
Joining the lineup will be the first brick-and-mortar location for popular food truck The Dumpling Lady — as well as an award-winning Chicago-based cocktail bar, a pet health food store and a stationery store.
The food hall phase has a projected grand opening of March 1, 2019, with Duke Energy moving into the office space next month.
New tenants include:
Archer Paper Goods will bring a selection of greeting cards, books, journals and other gifts into 2,258 square feet of retail space. You may have seen their other locations in Atlanta, Athens or Dallas, and this will be their first North Carolina spot.
Chicago-based Billy Sunday is going to offer classic drinks, vintage spirits and new creations in its 1,450 square-foot cocktail lounge. The charming, dark and romantic decor should be a good fit in the mill’s adaptive reuse space. Look out for drinks including Tea Time, with fancy ingredients such as kaffir lime, black tea, amchur, lime, singari and gin.
Food with fresh, slow-cooked and natural ingredients — but before you start wondering what to order for dinner, we should tell you that this is for your animals, not you. Pet Wants is a health food store that will occupy a 500-square foot market stall.
Operating solely as a food truck before, The Dumpling Lady will be able to add a permanent location to their lineup, bringing family recipes with roots from Sichuan Province in Western China to a 500 square-foot market stall. She will be serving Charlotte favorites, including handmade dumplings, noodles, dim sum and a variety of Sichuan dishes.
These businesses will join the previously announced tenants:
- Bao + Broth Ramen + Bun Shop – An Asian-inspired food stall featuring quick and affordable items, including steam buns and ramen bowls.
- Fonta Flora Brewery – A 2,400 square-foot brewery and tasting room, along with a 5,000-square-foot outdoor patio.
- Aix Rotisserie – A French Rotisserie from the owners of Aix En Provence.
- Undercurrent Coffee – A full service coffee and espresso bar.
- Honeysuckle Gelato – A food stall featuring handmade gelato, gelato sandwiches and sorbet.
- Papi Queso – A self described “grilled cheese streatery” food truck, opening its first brick-and-mortar at Optimist Hall.
- AVA – A Tampa-based concept, featuring Italian food and Neapolitan-style pizza.
- Suárez Bakery & Barra – A “2.0 concept” from Suárez Bakery offering pastries, house-made breads and doughnuts, along with a Cuban menu.
- Zukku Sushi – Another Tampa-based concept, featuring sushi rolls, sushi burritos and poke bowls.
Bao + Broth co-owner Bruce Moffett said Moffett Restaurant Group is excited to be joining the curated group of tenants. “We love the neighborhood, we love being near the light rail. We are excited to bring this to Charlotte — we don’t have anything like this,” he said.
Optimist Hall is on a downward slope, which creates interesting pockets of ground-level space that tenants will be able to utilize, including individual patios, said Jay Levell, a co-founder with White Point partners.
The project is a joint venture of Atlanta-based Paces Properties and Charlotte-based White Point Partners. “The topo allows us to do some really cool things,” Levell said. “All the levels are so different and create a different dynamic everywhere.”
What happens when you take a building from 1892 and modernize it while celebrating its bones? Well, for one, the developers found a house under the parking lot, buried in asphalt, during construction. “When people didn’t need houses back in the day, they would burn them and cover them up,” said Merritt Lancaster, Paces Properties principal.
Also found during construction were thousands of spindle spools with thread still on them, a throwback to the days of gingham manufacturing. According to a Charlotte Mecklenburg Library file, the mill, which opened in 1904, operated with 20,000 spindles and 5,000 looms in its heyday. Lancaster said those discovered spindles will be used as decor in Optimist Hall.
More tenant lineups will be announced in coming weeks — so stay tuned for more. “It’s all about the excitement of having all these really cool tenants in one space,” Levell said.