CHARLOTTE-Mann Contractors and local investor Chuck Atkins have broken ground on the first phase of a $3 million, 4.5-acre project that comprises at least two 6,000-sf retail buildings and possibly six other spec buildings of undetermined size that will be sold or leased.

The structures will be completed in three months at Rich Hatchet and Statesville Roads, near the Northcross development at the Interstate 77 exit 25. The unnamed project is in the north office submarket which had a relatively high vacancy rate of about 20% at the end of the third quarter, according to Karnes Research Co. But Karnes says office vacancy there is improving, having dropped from a high of 29.5% in July.

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