North Carolina Music Factory
820 Hamilton St., Charlotte
The Music Factory is an amusement park for music lovers. The former textile mill has been transformed into a mixed-use entertainment complex with a mix of music venues, bars, and restaurants.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and retains much of its original character, including exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and wide beams, while adding state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems in each venue.
It took four years to complete the project, which staged its grand opening in 2009. The campus includes martini bars, dance clubs, pubs, restaurants, live-music venues, and a 5,000-seat amphitheater that is the only one of its kind in Charlotte, so the cliché “something for everyone” truly does apply here.
Most of the tenants are nationally known: Butter Lounge is an upscale restaurant and club that got its start in Manhattan; the San Francisco–based Fillmore is renowned for attracting international music sensations to the stage; and Crobar is a heavyweight on the club scene with locations in Miami, Buenos Aires, Beijing, and Chicago.
Though the 35-acre Music Factory is technically in Fourth Ward, it stands alone in the heart of a former industrial district. The out-of-the-way location means it’s not a place to stop by for a quick drink, but the developers understood that and designed the Music Factory to have a stay-and-play atmosphere—in fact the campus functions as a small town of sorts (all that’s missing is a hotel!). The cobblestone streets, wrought-iron gates, fountains, and outdoor seating make it feel more like Bourbon Street than a textile mill that was abandoned for decades.
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition