CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Convention Center's expansion project is over, and a new and more modern section was officially opened on Thursday.
The convention center was originally built some 25 years ago, but the city wanted to enhance it to lure in more companies, events, and parties to the Queen City.
It already has a history of its own. The building has welcomed six U.S. presidents as well as 11 million people for events big and small since it was built.
"This project came in on time and on budget," Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said at a news conference marking the completion of the expansion project.
It includes 50,000 square feet of additional meeting and event space, more rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, a rooftop to gather for events, and a pedestrian bridge that connects to the Westin Hotel across the street.
"That'll be big for our lunch and happy hour and everything else," said Delano Little, who is part owner of The Public House, a restaurant and bar that's a block away.
He and other Uptown businesses are excited for construction to be done.
"It brings a variety of people from all over the world basically and gets a chance for us for them to be able to sample what we do here and what our place is all about," he said.
Like many Uptown businesses, The Public House is ready for more people after a rough year or two due to the pandemic.
"So, we've just kind of been sitting and waiting and hoping that everything will get back to normal, so to hear the convention center is finished and ready for business and trying to bring more people in -- it brings a big smile to my face," Little said.
The completion also means the road closures are done in the surrounding areas, lessening the headache for commuters.
The Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority said in 2019, before the pandemic, the convention center helped bring in some $255 million in direct visitor spending at area businesses.
Many of those businesses hope that reality will return as people and events come back to the city.