When 16,000 architects descended on Charlotte for last year's American Institute of Architects convention, their curiosity was piqued by gray concrete towers rising on either side of a six-story parking structure between a Hilton Garden Inn and a Hampton Inn.
The nine-story towers are elevator shafts, constructed during the project's first phase, that are also intended to serve the final phase of a $34 million hotel project. It made sense to build the towers to their full height rather than to bring tower cranes back to complete them, according to developer Greg Panos. His company had planned a 40-room suite hotel, a 2,500-sq.-ft. ballroom, and two floors of office space between the hotels. But by the time the 11-story Hampton Inn and the 15-story Garden Inn were completed, the popularity of the extended-stay concept had waned. Panos thinks it will be at least a year before the hotel market is strong enough to complete the project.
Charlotte Observer reporter Doug Smith first wrote about the unusual structure when it opened two years ago. Because of numerous subsequent inquiries, he wrote a follow-up story earlier this year.