Oct 19, 2022 - Business

See inside the futuristic new Lowe’s tower in South End

Lowe's tower in South End

Lowe’s tower in South End

Mooresville-based Lowe’s gave us a first look at its futuristic new tech hub in South End this week.

The 25-story tower is the tallest building in Charlotte outside Uptown. It’s located at the corner of Worthington and Camden, across from the light rail.

Why it matters: Lowe’s was one of the first big employers to plant a corporate flag in South End. Since the home improvement retailer’s summer 2019 announcement about the new facility, a growing number of businesses have either announced plans for or moved to South End.

  • Among them: Alston & Bird, Grant Thornton, CBRE and Arrival.
  • Near Lowe’s, LendingTree opened its new headquarters at Vantage South End last year.

Details: Lowe’s leaders have said the tech hub was designed to encourage collaboration, from its work “pods” with moveable furniture to its multiple social hubs.

  • The building’s sleek design and location — in the heart of South End, walkable to countless amenities and the light rail — aims to attract top talent, too.
  • Lowe’s employees began moving into the new space in August.
A break room inside the new Lowe’s tower in South End. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Features:

  • The Lowe’s tower includes nine floors with “typical” flex workspace. Each floor seats approximately 150 people.
  • A spacious multipurpose auditorium seats 168 people.
  • There are no conference rooms on the perimeter of the building so that employees can have unobstructed views of Uptown, the rest of South End, south Charlotte and beyond.
  • The first nine floors of the building are a parking garage, with 725 spaces for Lowe’s.
  • The top floor includes a conference room where the board will meet, plus offices for C-suite execs like Godbole and Ellison.
The 168-seat auditorium at the new Lowe’s tower. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

What they’re saying: The opening of the South End office is the latest step in the company making good on Marvin Ellison’s vows early in his time as CEO to invest heavily in tech capabilities.

  • “Marvin was clear from the very beginning that technology is mission-critical to Lowe’s. We want to become the most customer-centric omnichannel retailer,” Seemantini Godbole, Lowe’s chief digital and information officer, told Axios.
  • Demand for efficient digital tools has become even more important for Lowe’s during the pandemic, Godbole said.

The South End tower will be able to house 2,000 tech professionals, such as data engineers, UX specialists and project managers, Godbole added.

A flex work space at the new Lowe’s tower. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Yes, but: The pandemic has changed the way everyone works. Plenty of Lowe’s employees still work half the time at home.

Massage chairs in the Lowe’s “Peaceful Lounge” at its South End tower. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios
  • Lowe’s employees typically come into the office two to three days a week, Godbole said.
  • Nonetheless, the company forged ahead with a large space dedicated to developing new tech. The South End office, Godbole added, will be a place for those employees “to do their best work.”

“People are rediscovering the joy of coming together and of working together,” Godbole said. Employees missed those “water cooler moments,” she added.

What’s next for South End: In the years since crews broke ground on the Lowe’s tower in 2019, a number of other high-rises have been announced or began construction nearby.

  • 110 East is a 23-story tower at the East/West light rail station currently under construction.
  • And the Queens Bridge Collective development, coming to the former Midnight Diner spot in 2025, will be a pair of towers topping 40 stories each.

Zoom out: The pandemic has bolstered home improvement retailers like Lowe’s as shoppers invested more in DIY projects like home office makeovers and additions. “Homes became everything,” from gyms to offices to entertainment centers, Godbole said.

The new Lowe’s tower has ping-pong tables and other entertainment for employees. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios
LOwe's innovation lab at its South End tower
An innovation lab at the new Lowe’s tower, where engineers tested augmented reality goggles. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios
Hallway at the new Lowe’s tower in South End. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios
A lobby at the new Lowe’s tower in South End. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios
Ground-floor retail includes tenants like Allbirds and Outdoor Voices. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios
Lowe's tech hub in South End

Lowe’s investment in its tech — such as how it transitioned its entire e-commerce platform to Google Cloud — has helped meet the increase demand, per Godbole.

Additionally, customers who previously may not have been interested in online shopping quickly turned to the Lowe’s digital store for their purchases during COVID, she added.

  • Those customers have kept up as “omnichannel shoppers,” or those who shop online and in the store, depending on their needs. It’s similar to how customers unfamiliar with online grocery shopping made it their norm during the pandemic.

“It just let us know that our transformation is truly working. It’s working for associates (and our) customers,” Godbole said.

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