A 23-story office tower is coming to South End near a popular restaurant

Florida-based developer Stiles Corporation and San Francisco real estate firm Shorenstein Properties said they had purchased the 2-acre site for the development, off of South Boulevard next to the East/West light rail station. The site includes restaurants Tupelo Honey and The Manchester, and other businesses, but the tower will be built on the parking lot behind them, said Justin Siemens, president of Stiles Carolinas.

Construction on the 385,000-square-foot office building could start within the next year, Stiles said in a release.

Plans also call for 11,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The firms did not immediately provide a timeline or cost for the project, but the release said future phases could accommodate up to 1 million square feet.

Development in South End has taken off since the light rail opened in 2007. But until recently, most of that construction was for apartment complexes and retail.

That's changing as companies look to compete for workers by locating near transit and other amenities.

Lowe's is building a 23-story tower in South End that will house a 2,000-employee global tech hub. And work is underway on a new headquarters for financial technology firm LendingTree, which announced plans this year to move its headquarters to South End from Ballantyne.

"South End is a prime location for employers looking to attract and retain talent in Charlotte," Siemens said in the release.

Jared Londry, director of capital markets for real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, which brokered the sale, said the site is particularly in-demand because much of the land adjacent to the light rail has been snapped up.

"The fact that (the site) sits on a light rail stop, the connectivity to Dilworth and to the historic neighborhood, in addition to the heart of South End ?— you can't replicate it," he said.