Belmont-Based Architects Help Gaston County Grow With Design Projects


A Belmont-based architecture and interior design firm, CL Helt, Architect, wants to be part of Gaston County’s growth by designing new projects in the area.

“We’re doing a lot more local work now than in the past,” said company owner Tim Johnston. “Since moving to Belmont, we have enjoyed participating in the fabric of the region.

Johnston, of Kentucky, and his wife Sharon, of South Africa, moved the business to Belmont in 2006 after being based in Charlotte since its beginnings 53 years ago.

The company has worked in over 46 states to complete architectural and interior design work.

The company was founded in Charlotte by Chet Helt of California. Tim Johnston started running the company ten years ago.

Familiar projects

The firm designed the adaptive reuse project transforming the former Belmont Jail behind the Old Stone Steakhouse on Main Street into an upmarket whiskey and cigar bar, called The Jailhouse, in 2017.

Belmont-based architecture and interior design firm CL Helt Architect designed the adaptive reuse project transforming the former Belmont Jail into an upscale whiskey and cigar bar called The Jailhouse, in 2017 .

“Yeah, that build was pretty big with all the concrete,” Tim said.

The project planned to transform the three-story prison into a venue hosting a full-service bar offering premium whiskey, spirits, rare beers and premium cigars from around the world.

Tim enjoyed keeping the old aspects of the prison, such as keeping the prison cell doors that now sit behind the bar, displaying the whiskey and scotch options.

The company also carried out the design and construction of at Samy’s Neighborhood Pub in downtown Belmont and the new Dallas location, located at 130 W. Trade St.

Tim says the buildings retain the same 1870s era on the outside, making it a fun adaptation and mixed-use project for the Dallas site.

Belmont, CL-based architectural firm Helt Architect designed Sammy's Neighborhood Pub in Dallas, located at 130 W. Trade St.

Upcoming projects

This year, the company will expand the 6,000 square foot cart barn to house a cart for the Belmont cart project.

The project’s nonprofit, Belmont Trolley Inc., was started six years ago by Rob Pressley with a plan to connect downtown Belmont to Belmont Abbey College‘s Sacred Heart Campus with the use of 1920s wagons.

“We looked at other historic wagon barns and they weren’t just used for getting on and off the wagon,” Tim said. “It will be a public event space and will have a rail trail.”

The company will create a 1920s railway barn including a tram museum telling local railway history. The barn will also include a pavilion for community functions and events.

Belmont-based architectural firm CL Helt, Architect, will design the trolley barn for the Belmont Trolley project.

Project completion dates will be determined once the company completes the design phase, Tim says.

CL Helt, architect will also develop the new headquarters of Catawba Riverkeepera McAdenville-based non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining the health of the South Fork River.

The 20,000 square foot building, located at 102 Main Street, will be built in the former Pharr textile factory next to the lake in downtown McAdenville.

The plant will be redeveloped into a mixed-use center including a water testing lab, storefront, classroom for 40 people and more.

The space will also feature a bar and patio where people can enjoy local craft beer and wine.

Construction began in August for the project and is expected to be complete by April, Tim says.

“We want to continue doing more adaptive reuse projects in the area,” Tim said.

CL Helt, Architect Inc., will develop Catawba Riverkeeper's new headquarters in a former textile mill.

The CL Helt architectural firm building, located at 6405 Wilkinson Blvd., was originally built by Vision Hosiery Mill workers to serve as the factory’s headquarters.

“Even the building we work in has an iconic story,” Sharon said.

Sharon works with the business providing business growth strategies and more.

Tim says his interest in architecture began around the age of 8 and he comes from a family of entrepreneurs and engineers.

He received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Kentucky in 1999 and has worked in the field of architecture for over 20 years.

“I draw buildings and I’ve never dreamed of doing anything else since,” Tim said.

Contact Janiya Winchester at 704-869-1842 or [email protected]

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