Camp North End in Charlotte sits in an old industrial area north of Uptown. You might even wonder where you are going as you drive over to the adaptive reuse location. Once you arrive and begin to explore, you will quickly be captivated by the history and design.
Reasons To Visit Camp North End
I had a hard time envisioning Camp North End when I first read about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised to find out just how massive the complex is. The size and scale contribute to its unique vibe.
1. Variety of Things To Do
Eclectic small businesses line designated retail areas along facilities that once built Model Ts and World War II equipment. Plus, the graffitied loading docks and industrial art installations catch the eye at every turn.
Wear walking shoes when you visit Camp North End because the first thing you will want to do is explore. All of Camp North End is visually enticing. The aesthetic leads you toward wanting to know more.
Camp North End will one day be a complete ‘Work, Live, Play’ community. For now, it checks two of those boxes. The grounds will eventually be home to hundreds of residential units. For now, the site combines work and play.
A co-working brand was one of the first companies to open. Now, a few of the largest companies in the country lease space as a hub for employees. More employer tenants will follow.
Of course, co-working isn’t likely to be the reason you visit. Camp North End features restaurants, food stalls, a brewery, a coffee shop, sweet treats, and traditional retail tenants.
The overall grounds are still under development, so Camp North End’s day will come. Shaded swings, corn hole, and other games cover the grounds. Still, it has yet to reach the popularity of the Rail Trail or Optimist Hall.
There are some places you might visit once for the novelty of the experience. This is not one of those places. You will likely return time and time again.
2. Proximity to Uptown (and Views)
Camp North End sits along Graham Street, which is a straight shot to Uptown. Trees and midrises often block a view of Uptown in many of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Instead, as you walk through Camp North End, you will frequently be surprised to turn and see the skyline rising in the near distance.
The one downside to the location might be that the light rail and Rail Trail are a mile away. There also isn’t much to do or visit in the surrounding neighborhood. Still, this site is massive unto itself, and one day it will be a significant regional draw.
And while Camp North End doesn’t sit along the Rail Trail, it is still very convenient to Uptown, NODA, and South End. It is only two miles from the center city, which means it’s only a short bike ride away.
Interestingly, while Camp North End and NODA are both north of Uptown, Camp North End is closer to the center city than NODA. NODA is about 2.5 miles away, but that is still only a 15-minute bike ride away.
Of course, this central location means Camp North End is easily accessible across the Charlotte metropolitan region. Visiting adaptive reuse might not be one of the best-known things to do in Charlotte, but it might soon become that.
3. Engaging Artwork
You will find Industrial artwork and murals across the Camp North End grounds. It’s impressive because you could easily get lost on the premises, yet you will see art wherever you are.
You will see beautiful murals at every turn. The murals cover several large brick walls on the former warehouses, but you might expect murals in a trendy neighborhood. The developer added beautiful murals to the first parking deck, which faces the interior rail tracks. They also painted a silo near the Graham Street entrance. The beautifully painted silo is eye-catching.
Of course, painted murals scatter across the Queen City. The industrial art really sets Camp North End apart. There are several locations where artists mangled rebar and concrete into a beautiful mess. As ridiculous as that sounds, every rebar display is intriguing. You can’t help but allow the twisted rebar to catch your eye.
Elsewhere there are three storage containers stacked. The painted containers proudly display a white logo against a colorful backdrop.
Still, as intriguing as these various industrial displays are, one display stands tall above the rest. This is true both literally and figuratively. The developers placed three large, rusted tanks on their ends. Each stands against the others, forming a tripod you can walk underneath.
The tanks once held fuel and water for the factories, and each weighs over 10,000 lbs. The display is visually appealing, but it is also impressive. It was no small feat to move the tanks to their current location and secure them.
4. Fascinating History
There may be no building in Charlotte with a more intriguing history. Camp North End is a symbol of American ingenuity and determination. It’s a place where history empowers and inspires the future.
Ford Motor Company Era
Before the Great Depression, the oldest factory on site served as a production facility for Ford Model T and Model A cars. Three large coal-powered boilers powered the massive building.
One thing that makes this place so captivating is that so much of this history is still evident today. The coal-powered boilers are behind the water tower next to the Boileryard.
World War II & Cold War – US Army Era
The Great Depression scuttled Ford’s use of the local facilities. This left behind the perfect warehouse to serve as an anchor for a Quartermaster Depot for the US Army. The Army added five more massive warehouses to go along with the original Ford facility.
The Charlotte Quartermaster Depot supplied soldiers in basic training throughout the Southeast. The facilities were so massive that the Army might dedicate an entire warehouse section to an activity like typewriter repairs.
Later the Charlotte Army facilities would harken back to their manufacturing roots. During the Cold War, the US Army made missiles at the Camp North End facility.
The Army later used the facilities to produce semi-amphibious off-road vehicles, which rose to prominence during the Vietnam War. The vehicle traveled over rugged terrain exceptionally well, which an articulated chassis enabled.
While the Gama Goat looks like a four-wheel vehicle pulling a trailer, it is actually a six-wheel vehicle. The front and rear wheels turn opposite directions, providing better maneuverability.
The US Army made more than 14,000 Gama Goats during the late 1960s and early 1970s. More advanced vehicles like Humvees eventually replaced the Goats.
Roger Gamaunt invented the vehicle’s articulated joint. The Army borrowed the first four letters of his name for the term “Gama.” The semi-amphibious vehicle was known as the “Goat” because of its off-road capabilities. This resulted in the combined name, Gama Goat.
5. Unique Charlotte Experience
Serious question: How many warehouse districts have a rich history combining Ford Model Ts, Cold War missiles, and off-road-capable Army vehicles? Not many.
One unique thing about Camp North End is that you can still see so much of this history today. The boiler yard, water tower, and massive fuel and water tanks all point toward a rich history of American ingenuity. One of the buildings has beautiful wood tile flooring, and even the wood tiles offer a glimpse into a time gone by.
The US Army once used the railroad tracks that still cross through the grounds. And the developer even displayed one of the Gama Goats in a glass showcase.
Today, ATCO is transforming the grounds into a true live, work, play community. There are offices for major employers and smaller co-working areas. There are smaller food and retail stalls and larger footprints for breweries and restaurants. The last phase will be the addition of hundreds of apartments and residential units.
When you combine this rich and visible history with the current transformation, the result is an undeniably unique experience. You will be captivated by the history, inspired by art, and consumed by the experience. Hats off to ATCO for preserving such wonderful potential.
Camp North End Facts & Tidbits
Camp North End is very cool, but you probably still have many questions if you are like us. We’ve rounded up a list of commonly asked questions. We will do our best to tell you everything you need to know.
What Does Camp North End Stand For?
“CAMP” stands for Charlotte Area Missile Plant. The US Army penned the Charlotte Area Missile Plant name when the military used the warehouses for missile production during the Cold War. Camp North End honors its rich history by carrying on the name.
What did Camp North End Use To Be?
The Ford Motor Company built the original warehouse at Camp North End to make Model As and Model Ts. During World War II, the United States military used the warehouse as a Southeastern outpost. The facilities made missiles and Gama Goat vehicles during the Cold War and the Vietnam war.
Camp North End Address and Location
There are multiple entrances to enter Camp North End. The facilities stretch the entire block between Graham Street and Statesville Avenue. The central address is 300 Camp Rd, Charlotte, NC 28206. If you’ve never been before, we recommend looking up the address for a specific restaurant or retail location.
How Big Is Camp North End in Charlotte?
Camp North End spans 76 acres north of Uptown Charlotte. The expansive area is home to offices, retail, and restaurants. In the future, hundreds of apartments and residential units will also find their home here. Most of the buildings are closer to Graham Street than Statesville Avenue.
When Did Camp North End Open?
While Ford built the original warehouse in 1924, ATCO Properties purchased the facilities from Rite Aid in 2016. The first sections reopened to the public in 2017, and the adaptive reuse transformation continues today. More apartments, retail, and office are still to come.
Community Garden and Mural
Is Camp North End Worth It?
Camp North End is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon. There are restaurants, retail, cornhole, and swings. You can get some walking in as you explore. It is also home to major area employers and will soon be home to residential.