Aug 1, 2022 - Development

What businesses Plaza Midwood developers could introduce to a changing neighborhood

Commoonwealth Plaza Midwood construction

Commonwealth mixed-use development under construction on a late July morning. Photo: Axios/Alexandria Sands

Commonwealth, the major redevelopment project underway in Plaza Midwood, will add 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space to a neighborhood with an already fast-changing business scene.

Bobby Speir, of the developer Crosland Southeast, says no leases have been signed for the quickly progressing construction project, but he reports interest is gaining momentum. The company is selective about the mixed-use project’s future tenants, he says.

  • And it’s under a good amount of pressure.

Driving the news: Crosland Southeast is on the search for a blend of local, regional and national tenants to introduce to the market as part of its transformational project, opening by 2024. Expect food and beverage to fill about 40% to 50% of the commercial space throughout the 12-acre development.

  • “No, kind of, chain-y type of groups,” Speir clarified. “More so, groups that understand what it’s like to be in a neighborhood like Plaza Midwood, so they can adapt their concept.”

Why it matters: The story of change in Plaza Midwood has been told many times over, as beloved staple businesses shuttered through recent years. But the countdown until Soul Gastrolounge closes has put the neighborhood’s identity crisis into sharp perspective.

  • Chains are opening (Emmy Squared Pizza and Dave’s Hot Chicken), but at the same time opportunities are arising for new businesses to move in, including Milkbread in the former Dairy Queen spot and Asheville-based Burial Beer Co.

Details: Two rehabbed, early 1900s brick mill buildings are “the heart of the project.”

Commoonwealth Plaza Midwood construction
Crosland Southeast is rehabbing two vintage buildings on the property. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios
  • Speir said they’re in talks with groups who could energize the second floors of the historic structures with lively food and drink establishments. The dining will extend to a rooftop on at least the frontmost structure, but decks on both is a possibility.

Plus: There will be four to five micro-retail spaces at the bottom of the front vintage building.

  • The entrepreneurs could possibly be testing out the market or their idea for the first time.
  • Merchants would ideally grow out of the 500- to 1,200-square-feet rentals within a year or two. The turnover should keep the atmosphere “fresh and active,” Speir said.

Between the lines: The vintage buildings, although they are the center point, are just one part of Commonwealth.

  • There are ultimately two phases of the project. The construction occurring now is the first.
  • Besides retail and restaurants, plans include a parking deck, 150,000 square feet of office space and a 383-unit apartment complex featuring studios, one- to three- bedroom units and amenities. They’ll be priced at market rate (right now, nearby complexes are advertising one bedrooms starting around $1,620 a month).
  • According to Speir, the housing will fit the vibe of Plaza Midwood, playing on its creativity on the exterior and inside.

By the numbers: There will be 40,000 square feet of commercial space under the apartments, 15,000 square feet under the office and 20,000 square feet in the existing strip mall, where Five Guys and Bistro La Bon are, in addition to the vintage buildings.

Go deeper: See renderings of the development that will forever change the heart of Plaza Midwood

Timeline: The commercial aspects of the development are on track for completion in late 2023 or early 2024. Apartments would open later in 2024.

  • 2026 is the target goal for wrapping phase two, so construction crews will be a common sight for a few years in Plaza Midwood.

What’s next: The plans for phase two originally were 300,000 square feet of office and a boutique hotel.

  • “That is very much still on the table,” Speir said. “But we’re also kind of looking at it as a blank slate saying, ‘OK, what will be best for the project long term?’”

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