Blythe Construction Helps Turn Military Manufacturing Site into Charlotte’s Next Commercial Hotspot
By Garrett Simmons
For years it stood vacant and unused behind a chain-link fence. But prior to 1973 the warehouse at 1701 N. Graham Street was full of activity. Built in the 1920s, it originally produced Ford Model Ts before being used by the U.S. Army as a quartermaster depot, then later as a missile assembly plant. Most notably in its history, however, is the late 1960s and early 70s, when it was the production site of its unusual namesake: a six-wheeled semi-amphibious military transport vehicle called the Gama Goat.
Now after years of neglect the historic warehouse is being repurposed once again. It’s part of a 75+ acre commercial complex known as Camp North End. Once finished, the Gama Goat Building will house office and retail spaces that cater to creative businesses like those already established in other Camp North End facilities, including: Hex Coffee, Black Market, Silver Eye Studios, Goodyear Arts and others.
The creative focus of the Camp North End complex, combined with the history of the Gama Goat building, has generated a fair amount of public interest in the project. Factor in the site’s proximity to Uptown Charlotte—less than one mile from the city center—and it’s easy to understand the excitement surrounding the work that’s being done.
For Blythe Construction, Gama Goat is an opportunity to be involved in a project that’s unique to Charlotte’s history, as well as expand its presence in the private market.
“During the last few years, we’ve gradually taken on more projects in the private sector,” says Mick Hartz, Construction Engineer at Blythe. “Gama Goat stands out because of its history, and the long-term plan for Camp North End.”
For its part, Blythe is responsible for completing all curb and concrete work, drainage, grading, and dirt work, as well as paving all parking areas. The project marks the first in which Blythe has worked for general contractor Graycor of Charlotte, a partnership that has been a positive experience from day one, according to Blythe Superintendent Mark Spradling.
“The work that we’ve done so far is fairly straightforward,” he says. “The only real challenge we’ve encountered has been coordinating our work with crews working inside the building so that we all stay on schedule. It’s a little bit tight, but so far everything has gone smoothly.”
Spradling, who remembers seeing actual Gama Goats during his time in the Army, says learning the history of the jobsite has made the experience of working on it more enjoyable. “It’s interesting, not just because of what was made here, but because of what it’s being turned into. There’s some pretty cool stuff going on here,” he says, pointing out some of the businesses established elsewhere on the Camp North End property. “We couldn’t be happier to be part of it.”
Blythe crews are scheduled to complete the contract in early summer of this year, at which time the Gama Goat building will welcome its first tenants.