Friday, December 21, 2012

Fiscal cliff weighing on Charlotte commercial real estate

Two experts from commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley say the ongoing negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" are weighing on Charlotte's commercial real estate market.

U.S. lawmakers are trying to work out a compromise to avoid to so-called fiscal cliff, a term used to describe the automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect unless lawmakers reach a budget deal.

Sarah Godwin, a senior analyst in the firm's uptown office, said sales of commercial properties could be delayed until 2013 as buyers and sellers wait to see how their taxes could be impacted.

Uptown has seen a record year in terms of dollars for sales of uptown office buildings.  Some more closings of major properties in or near uptown are pending, say brokers involved in the deals.

But "in the rush to the finish line by the end of 2012, deals that are held up for whatever reasons will likely have buyers and sellers that hold tight until Congress brings clarity to its fiscal cliff decisions," Godwin says. "This could delay some closings indefinitely and hamper local and national investment sales activity in the first half of 2013."

Also likely delayed - industrial relocations and expansions, she says. That's because manufacturing firms, particularly those that do business internationally, are especially sensitive to tax rates.

In general, companies and investors have been postponing decisions recently as they watch various events unfold -- such as the U.S. Presidential election or the European economic crisis. The fiscal cliff is just one more issue that will postpone decisions, says Steve Gassaway, Cassidy Turley's regional managing principal.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crescent starts construction on U City apartments

 Crescent Resources is set to build Circle University City, a 546-bed apartment community for college students near the UNC Charlotte campus.

Construction on the $36 million Circle University City project will begin this week, and the first of the 187 units will be ready by the start of the fall 2014 semester.

The project will offer amenities targeted to students, including a study and lounge area, game room, and rooftop terrace overlooking the campus,  tanning beds, a salt-water pool and outdoor fire pits.

“UNC Charlotte is experiencing soaring enrollment, an elevated profile and surging momentum with the addition of a football team, which makes it an ideal location for our successful brand of student housing, ” said Ben Collins, regional director for Crescent Resources. “Circle University City will offer a unique student-living experience that isn’t typically found in campus housing. The community’s targeted amenities will provide a great environment for both study and recreation.”

UNC Charlotte enrolled the largest freshman class in its history for the fall 2012 semester with 631 more students than expected, and university officials noted that campus housing has become an issue. To accommodate the influx of students, the school increased the number assigned to double rooms and delayed the demolition of an aging residence hall.

Crescent Resources targeted the University City Area, in part, because of the increase in students at UNC Charlotte and subsequent rising demands for housing.

Crescent Resources also developed the student housing community Circle West Campus near The University of Texas at Austin. 

With Circle University City, Crescent has more than 2,906 multifamily units in communities valued at $442 million under construction throughout the Southeast. The company has developed more than 20 apartment communities.

Circle University City is financed by equity from Crescent Resources, with a construction loan from Regions Bank. The project team includes development partner Carbon Properties, architect BB+M Architecture, interior designer Vignette Interior Design, civil engineer and landscape architect LandDesign, general contractor Adolfson & Peterson Construction, and property manager Greystar.

In addition to Circle University City, other Crescent multifamily communities under construction include Circle SouthPark and Circle Alexander Village in Charlotte; Circle Bayshore and Circle Crosstown in Tampa, Fla.; Gallery at Cameron Village in Raleigh, N.C.; Circle Ninth Street in Durham, N.C.; and Circle Terminus in Atlanta.

Crescent Resources developed Circle at South End in Charlotte; Circle at Concord Mills in Concord, N.C.; and The Venue at Cool Springs in Nashville, Tenn.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Charlotte's A M King Construction wins award

The southeast chapter of the Design-Build Institute of America has awarded Charlotte-based A M King Construction the Best Project Renovation/Rehabilitation/Restoration award for its work on the ALDI Corporate office building expansion in Batavia, Illinois.

Winning projects must show early collaboration, be completed on time and on budget with no litigation, and demonstrate "total integrated project delivery and finding unique solutions to challenges during the project," the institute says. 

"We are proud of both the process of designing and building the ALDI Corporate office building, and the product we achieved," A M King Construction partner Brian King said in a release.

ALDI, Inc., called on A M King Construction to add a 95,000-square-foot, class-A office building to its U.S. Corporate Headquarters Campus, and provide renovations throughout its existing buildings. The project involved incorporating the new office building into a crowded campus, which included multiple existing adjacent office buildings. A M King also added 58,000 square feet of parking, relocated roadway and site structures, and provided numerous site improvements.

“We were up against several challenges with this project, including multiple labor strikes and a harsh Chicago-area winter,” A M King Construction’s Operations Director Dan Crist said. “We were constantly revising schedules and plans to overcome these obstacles. Not only did we achieve a level of quality well above traditional construction projects, we did this on time and even realized cost savings for our client.”

Founded in 2004, A M King Construction is a full service design-build and construction services company serving the food manufacturing, food distribution and clean manufacturing industries. The company has won numerous industry awards for projects it has completed across the United States. A M King has designed and built more than seven million square feet of industrial, manufacturing and office space in the past seven years.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New apartments planned near Park Road Shopping Center

Selwyn Property Group is planning to build a four-story boutique apartment complex near the corner of Park and Woodlawn roads, the Observer has learned.

Selwyn Property Group closed on the Park Road land about two weeks ago and plans to build Park at Drexel, which will include 42 residential units, 4,500 square feet of commercial space and 58 surface parking spots.

Developers are betting that its location -- near popular restaurant row on Montford Drive and across the street from Park Road Shopping Center -- will attract younger professionals who like to walk to their shopping and entertainment.

The land had been rezoned for luxury condominiums before the recession. But plans fell through.

Park at Drexel will offer 15 lofts from 450 square feet to 650 square feet, about two dozen one- and two-bedroom units, and one three-bedroom unit with 1,700 square feet. Amenities will include an outdoor grilling area and cyber cafe.

Projected monthly rents are less than $1,000 for the one-bedroom units and under $1,500 for the two-bedroom units.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

E. Morehead St. building sells for $5.25 million

An entity sponsored by Beacon Partners of Charlotte has closed on its purchase of 500 East Morehead St.

The group paid $5.25 million for the 43,000 square-foot office building on 2.4 acres.

The three-story building was built in two phases, one in 1960 and one in 1963, and sits adjacent to the Dowd YMCA. The YMCA is the anchor tenant of the property, which had 25 tenants and was 95 percent occupied at the time of the sale, according to a press release.

SYNCO and its investing properties bought the property in 1982 for $1.3 million. Beacon plans to continue to lease and manage the property and serve existing and new tenants, the release says.

Activity has increased along East Morehead Street. The Duke Endowment, for example, is building its new headquarters on the street.

Tim Hose, President/CEO of SYNCO Properties, Inc. handled negotiations for the seller.  Mike

Harrell, office principal of Beacon Partners, led the Beacon buyer team.

Construction to begin on new industrial space

Construction is set to begin on new, speculative industrial space in Concord.

A joint venture between The Nolim Group, CM Black Construction Co. and CESI Land Development Services announced Thursday that it is moving forward with plans to build a 88,527 square-foot Class A speculative industrial building at 4541 Enterprise Dr. in the International Business Park in Concord.

The building, which developers say fills a void for manufacturing and warehouse space, is expected to be finished in May. 

“In today’s economy, very few developers are constructing speculative buildings, making inventory of available manufacturing and industrial space scarce throughout Cabarrus County and the region,” stated Anne Johnson with CBRE, who is marketing the building on behalf of the ownership.  “We are excited to be completing this project and believe that 4541 Enterprise Dr. will be appealing to a wide variety of businesses looking to relocate to the International Business Park, helping create needed jobs in the area.”

The International Business Park is a 500-acre park located 20 miles from downtown Charlotte and along the I-85 corridor. The park is home to roughly 30 companies, including five international firms.

S.C. posts 5th highest foreclosure activity in November

Fewer U.S. homes faced foreclosure filings in November compared to the previous month and the same time last year, according to the U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

Annual foreclosure filings rose sharply in the Carolinas, however. 

South Carolina posted the fifth-highest foreclosure activity in the country, the data shows.

One out of every 728 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing in November, down 3 percent from October and a 19 percent drop from November 2011 - the 26th consecutive month showing an annual decrease in foreclosure activity, according to the report, released Thursday by analytics firm RealtyTrac. 

In North Carolina, one in 1,254 homes faced foreclosure activity - up 27 percent compared to November 2011 and down less than 1 percent from the previous month.

In South Carolina, one in 455 homes faced foreclosure activity, an increase of 17 percent for the year and up 32 percent from the previous month.

Foreclosure filings include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.

RealtyTrac said that while the U.S. housing industry is past the worst of the foreclosure crisis, "...foreclosures

are continuing to hobble the U.S. housing market as lenders finally seize properties that started the process a year or two ago — and much longer in some cases," said vice president Daren Blomquist. 

"We’re likely not completely out of the woods when it comes to foreclosure starts, either, as lenders are still adjusting to new foreclosure ground rules set forth in the National Mortgage Settlement along with various state laws and court rulings,” Blomquist said.

The national decrease in foreclosure activity was driven largely by big year-over-year drops in California, Georgia, Michigan, Texas and Arizona. Foreclosure activity meanwhile rose in 23 states and the District of Columbia. 

South Carolina was one of nine states posting a 12-month highs in November for foreclosure activity. 

Lenders completed the foreclosure process on more than 59,000 U.S. homes in November, up 11 percent from the previous month and up 5 percent from November last year.  This is the first annual increase in bank repossessions since October 2010, when the practice of robo-signing foreclosure documents came to light and sparked a moratorium on foreclosures, slowing activity for months.

To view the report, go to

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More apartments on the way...

Goldberg Companies from Cleveland, Ohio has purchased 16 acres on Old Lancaster Highway and Highway 521 from the Yager family for $3.1 million. The property was rezoned earlier this year for 248 upscale apartments.

Charlotte's Ziegler & Co. represented the seller.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Former Charlotte mayoral candidate starts new firm

Former Charlotte mayoral candidate Scott Stone has started a new engineering firm.

Stone is managing principal at American Engineering, a firm that will do civil engineering, land planning, landscape architecture, environmental engineering and project and construction management.

The firm, which is operating temporarily out of an office at Ballantyne Corporate Park, is looking for a more permanent home for its five employees. Stone, who started the firm with Barry Fay, said he anticipates the firm could have 10 employees by the middle of next year.

Stone was defeated by Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx in the 2011 elections.  Stone has worked for engineering firm Merrick & Co. and Arcadis.

He acknowledged that commercial real estate market remains soft.

"I think everyone is hoping that January or February is when deals start kicking around and come to life again," he said.

Stone said he has never launched a separate firm before, and that the new venture "is going to be exciting."

"Sometimes people think there's safety in bigger firms," he said. "In today's business, I'd rather be in charge of my own destiny."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sales of U.S. commercial properties fall

The U.S commercial real estate industry is showing small signs of improvement, according to a report released Monday by an industry trade group.

Commercial property values nationwide remain flat, and the volume of deals has decreased, according to CCIM Institute, an industry trade group. Sales of hotel properties fell 25 percent during the past year, for example. Office and retail projects fell roughly 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively. And sales of apartment complexes fell about five percent from the previous quarter.

"Get used to it, as this is the 'new normal' for the economy and we should expect this investment environment for the foreseeable future," said Kenneth Riggs, Jr., the group's chief real estate economist. "The low-hanging fruit has been picked."

On the positive side, investment conditions have improved modestly across all property types compared to last year, the report says.

Slow economic growth, high U.S. joblessness and anticipated federal tax increases weigh are dragging down sales.

The report, based on a third-quarter survey of CCIM members, found a silver lining:  Commercial real estate remains a reasonable and sturdy investment choice for investors seeking realistic returns and minimal volatility, CCIM members reported.

"There are plenty of investors seeking to avoid the volatility of the stock market, and who require higher yields than those offered by bonds and cash investments," Riggs said.

Charlotte's November home sales 'robust'

Charlotte-area home sales rose 35 percent in November compared to the previous year, leading the local Realtor association to describe the jump as "robust." The increase is particularly noteworthy given the housing market is in a traditionally low-point in the sales cycle.

Both the median and average sales prices also rose, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association report released Monday. 

The average price in November was $204,413, up 6.2 percent compared to last year's average of $192,414.  The median price, $160,000, was up 5.6 percent from last year. 

"We're actually in the historically weakest part of the selling season, but home prices are continuing to rise, largely due to decreased supply and solid demand," said association president Jennifer Frontera. "This is good for sellers."

The average list price in November was relatively flat at $223,175, up a slight 0.6 percent from last year. 
Sellers are also receiving 92.2 percent of what they are asking for, up from 90.7 percent last November. 

New listing rose to 3,028, up five percent annually. The supply of homes, meanwhile, fell, dropping 27.5 percent compared to November 2011, giving the area a 5.7-month supply of new homes. A six-month supply of homes is considered healthy. 

This number does not reflect what's known as shadow inventory, or homes that are in the foreclosure process or seriously delinquent. 

Foreclosures and short sales - where a home sells for less than its outstanding mortgage - accounted for proportionately fewer new listings and sales. Distressed homes accounted for 13.7 percent of new listings, down from 18.2 percent last year. They accounted for 13.3 percent of sales, down from 18.3 percent this time last year. 

Home spent less time on market - an average 145 days, a decrease of 15 days. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Camden to redevelop south Charlotte apartments

Apartment giant Camden has applied for a rezoning to let it redevelop an existing complex in south Charlotte, according to paperwork filed with the city of Charlotte.

Camden wants to redevelop Camden Pinehurst at the southwest corner at the intersection of Providence Road and Strawberry Hill Drive. The property, which offers one, two- and three-bedroom units, sits on roughly 40 acres.

An employee in the Camden Pinehurst office told a tenant that, all going smoothly, redevelopment would start around summer 2014. The employee said that as the construction date neared, the company would stop renewing leases as they came due, gradually vacating the property.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sale closes, apartment construction scheduled for Southpark lot

Woodfield Investments' purchase of land in Southpark for a new apartment complex has closed and construction could start soon.

Woodfield paid $7.25 million for 3.21 acres at the corner of Morrison Boulevard and Barclay Downs Road, where the company plans to build 288 luxury apartment unites.

Bill Ziegler represented Woodfield.


More home buyers choosing short sales

More homebuyers are choosing to buy a home while it is in the foreclosure process instead of buying a house that has already been foreclosed on and is owned by the lender, a new report shows.

Foreclosures nationally accounted for 19 percent of all home sales during the third quarter - down from 20 percent in the second quarter but flat when compared to the same time last year, according to data released Thursday by RealtyTrac, a California-based real estate analytics firm.

For the first time in recent years, however, sales of properties in some stage of foreclosure outnumbered sales of foreclosed and bank-owned properties during the third quarter, according to RealtyTrac.

Roughly 98,125 sold while they were in the foreclosure process versus 94,934 foreclosed homes owned by banks.

"...Both lenders and at-risk homeowners are realizing that short sales are often a better alternative than foreclosure," said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president. Short sales are those where the sales price is below the outstanding mortgage.

The average sales price of a home in the foreclosure process was $191,025, down 5 percent from last year and nearly one-third less than the average sales price of a non-foreclosed home.

Foreclosed homes owned by banks sold for an average $162,000 during the third quarter, up 7 percent from the same time last year.

Recent reports show the housing market, both nationally and locally, is improving. Foreclosures continue to drag down the recovery but in the Charlotte area are accounting for proportionately fewer sales.

Some stats:
The U.S.: 193,059 foreclosure sales in the third quarter (this includes homes sold while in the foreclosure process and those already taken over by a lender) - down 3 percent from the same time last year.  The distressed sales account for nearly 20 percent of all U.S. home sales.

Distressed homes sold for an average $177,430, or a 30 percent discount to the average sales price of a non-distressed home.

North Carolina: 3,235 foreclosure sales in the third quarter - up 40 percent from the same time last year. The  distressed sales account for 10 percent of all N.C. sales and reported an average sales price of $134,826, a 32 percent discount to the average sales price of a non-distressed home.

South Carolina: 2,076 foreclosure sales in the third quarter - up 20 percent from the same time last year. The distressed sales account for 14 percent of all sales and had an average sales price of $131,259, a 30 percent discount to the average sales price of a non-distressed home.

To see the report go to

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Charlotte's Lat Purser announces new apartment project

LPA Rhett, LLC, a partnership between Charlotte's Lat Purser & Associates, Inc. and Ray Jones, will build a new 150-unit apartment complex in Greenville, S.C., the companies announced Wednesday.

Groundbreaking for the project, which will be at the corner of Rhett and Wardlaw streets, is slated for February. The first units are expected to be finished in May 2014.

The Rhett St. Apartments will feature five unit types ranging from 550-square-foot studios to 1,017-square-foot two-bedroom apartments.

The complex will be smoke-free and dog friendly and offer a club house with flat-screen televisions, pool table, work-out facility and rentable storage units. The grounds will have a courtyard, saltwater swimming pool, gas grills, shuffle-board court and dog park.

The Charlotte office of Adolfson & Peterson Construction will build the project. Financing for the project is being provided by Bank of America Corp. Additional  funding is being provided through private equity  sources that includes Kaufman Realty Group and Intermark Management, which will also be providing the leasing and property management.

Developers have been flocking to build apartment complexes as more people are expected to rent in upcoming years. Younger people are more likely to rent, either afraid of or unwilling to enter an unpredictable housing market, studies suggest. Or they may have trouble getting mortgages.

Founded in 1961, Lat Purser has focused on multifamily projects for more than 50 years.  Lat Purser also has focused on infill projects and creating walkable communities.

Ray Jones is a developer who has built more than 20,000 rental and for sale homes in the Carolinas, Southeast and East Coast.

Charlotte's Crescent Resources hires leader for Florida projects

Crescent Resources has hired John Classe Jr., a real estate industry veteran with almost three decades of experience, to lead its residential projects in Florida, the company said Wednesday.

Classe’s real estate development experience includes all aspects of planning, entitlements, design, permitting, government relations, project finance and community governance. He has overseen the development of a variety of large-scale, master-planned communities, retail centers and resorts - including master-planned communities Celebration and Baldwin Park in Central Florida.

“John knows Florida’s real estate market as well as anybody, and he brings a tremendous amount of residential development experience to this position,” said Margaret Jennesse, senior vice president of the Residential Division. “He will guide our efforts as we continue to expand our Sunshine State portfolio.”

More than three years ago, Crescent filed for bankruptcy protection in part because of the developer's aggressive move into Florida and Arizona, two markets hit hard in the real estate bust.

But Crescent has returned to Florida, where it recently purchased Oakland Park – a 258-acre community between the Town of Oakland and City of Winter Garden, Fla. Crescent’s other Florida communities include BridgeWater and Grand Hampton in Tampa, and Winding River in St. Marys, Ga., which is in the Jacksonville market.

“Crescent creates one-of-kind communities that people love to call home,” Classe said. “I’m excited to join the team and develop new communities in Florida that will serve as a model for responsible, high-quality residential development.”

Prior to joining Crescent, Classe worked in Orlando, Fla. as vice president of Atkins North America, formerly PBS&J; vice president and chief operating officer of New Broad Street Companies; and vice president of Pritzker Realty Group.

Founded in 1969 and based in Charlotte, Crescent Resources conducts business through four divisions in growing markets in the Southeast and Texas and develops high-quality residential communities and commercial assets. Currently, Crescent has more than 20 master-planned communities and seven multifamily communities with 2,200 units under development and an additional 2,900 multifamily units in predevelopment. Crescent owns more than 75,000 acres of land across its four divisions, including 1,400 acres zoned for a variety of commercial uses.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Charlotte-area home prices up 4.4% in year

Charlotte-area homeowners can rejoice in another batch of good news.
A report released Tuesday by CoreLogic shows local single-family home prices rose 4.4 percent in October, compared to the previous year.
Nationally, home prices fared even better – rising an annual 6.3 percent in October, the largest yearly gain since July 2006.
North Carolina posted a modest 1.8 percent annual increase, while South Carolina, which has been harder hit by foreclosures, saw a 7.1 percent increase in single-family home prices compared to October 2011.
The report follows last week’s release of another indicator, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which showed Charlotte-area home prices rose 3.5 percent annually.
Both the Case Shiller index and CoreLogic’s index track repeat sales of the same single-family homes.
Tuesday’s report bolsters other news and a growing belief by industry observers that the housing market is in the midst of a recovery.
“We are seeing an ongoing strengthening of the residential housing market,” CoreLogic President and CEO Anand Nallathambi said in a statement. “Reduced inventories and improving buyer demand are contributing to stability and growth in home prices, which is essential to the long term health of the housing market and the broader economy.”
On a monthly basis, Charlotte home prices fell 0.6 percent in October compared to September. Nationally, prices fell 0.2 percent in October from September. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. CoreLogic and local housing experts have attributed the monthly decline to the end of the popular summer home-buying season.
The report also shows the recovery may be broadening as more metropolitan areas are showing improvement. Prices rose in 45 states in October, up from 43 in September. Of the top 100 metro areas covered by the analytics firm, 17 showed year-over-year declines in October, four fewer than in September.
Locally, real estate agents say home prices have been helped by a relatively small number of homes on the market, which can boost sales prices. The Carolina Multiple Listing Services Inc. shows Charlotte-area housing inventory has fallen to a six-month supply, considered a healthy level.
Around the country, the National Association of Realtors says the number of available homes is at its lowest level in 10 years.
Kerry Singe: 704-358-5085

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fewer homes being foreclosed on in U.S. and N.C.

Lenders foreclosed on fewer homes - both nationally and locally -  in October compared to the previous year, the latest data from CoreLogic shows.

There were 58,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in October, down from 77,000 the previous month and down from 70,000 a year ago.

Nearly 800,000 U.S. homes were foreclosed on during the 12 months ending in October, down 0.3 percent. About 3.2 percent of all homes with a mortgage, or 1.3 million homes, were in what CoreLogic calls the foreclosure inventory.

The foreclosure inventory represents the number and share of mortgaged homes that have been placed into the foreclosure process.

In North Carolina, lenders foreclosed on 28,004 homes during the 12 months ending in October, also a 0.3 percent drop from the previous year. About 2.3 percent of N.C. homes are thought to be in foreclosure, the report shows.

Before the housing market decline that began in 2007, lenders foreclosed on an average 21,000 U.S. homes per month between 2000 and 2006.  Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been 3.9 million foreclosures completed across the country.

"A lower foreclosure inventory is a good indicator of improving housing markets," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

A memorial service to celebrate Henry Faison's life will be held today

A memorial service to celebrate Charlotte commercial real estate developer Henry Faison's life will be held 11 a.m. Monday at Christ Episcopal Church, 1412 Providence Rd., Charlotte.  A reception will follow in All Saints Hall.  

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Tall Timbers Research  Station, 13093 Henry Beadel Dr., Tallahassee, Fl, 32312.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Drop in Charlotte home prices a worry?

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller home price index figures released this
week gave U.S. homeowners a reason to be happy  - six straight months
of gains and statements that the housing market is in the midst of a

But five of the 20 cities included in the index posted declines.
Charlotte, which itself had seen six straight months of increases, for
example, watched its home prices slip 0.3 percent in September from

Should Charlotteans be worried?

Local real estate veteran Pat Riley, president and chief operating
officer of Allen Tate Cos., said he isn't bothered by the monthly
drop. In fact, he said his company hasn't watched monthly figures for
the last three years. He prefers to take a longer view.

"We are creating new stats and comparing stats becomes very hard to
do," Riley said.

He focuses on year-over-year sales. Case-Shiller data shows Charlotte
home prices rose 3.5 percent in September compared to the previous

"Bottom line is home ownership is returning to the 63 percent/64
percent levels," Riley said. "Sales and closing nationally will be up
and up each year off the new norm."

He said the Carolinas' housing market has been performing better than
he expected.  He'd predicted no change in home values this year, but
"because of high rents and low interest rates and low inventories,
appreciation rates are going to be ahead of schedule like this year."

He also has a prediction for area home prices during next year:
Another 3 percent jump.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Charlotte foreclosure rate continues slide

Foreclosure rates in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill area fell in September compared to the previous month and the same time last year, according to CoreLogic, a real estate analytics firm.

The area's foreclosure rate was 3.15 percent in September, down from 3.42 percent in September 2011 and down from 3.29 percent in August 2012.

The local foreclosure rate is lower than the national rate, which was 3.25 percent, CoreLogic reported Tuesday.

Also noteworthy: The percentage of area loans 90 days or more delinquent fell. This is an indicator of future foreclosure activity.

In September, 6.63 percent of mortgage loans were late 90 days or more, down from 6.98 percent during the same time last year. The U.S. delinquency rate in September was 5.49 percent, down from 5.65 percent in 2011.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Publix: South End store 'a rumor'

A Publix spokeswoman declined to comment on reports that land along South Boulevard has been put under contract for a future grocery store.

The Charlotte Business Journal has reported that land went under contract to a limited liability company manged by Scott MacLaren, senior vice president of the real estate investments group at Stiles, a commercial real estate firm that works closely with Publix.

Developers and their associates regularly, and quietly, put land under contract that they hope to develop.

Spokeswoman Maria Brous said the grocer has no definite plans to open a store in South End.

"That is just a rumor," Brous said Wednesday morning.

She said the company's only signed deal for a store in Charlotte remains the Ballantyne location, at Providence Road West and Johnston Road.

But Brous did say Publix is still "aggressively looking" for more sites in and around Charlotte. Stiles, which is developing Publix's Ballantyne store, recently partnered with Charlotte-based Levine Properties to develop future projects. Company president, Daniel Levine, declined to comment on a possible South End location for Publix.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Levine Center for the Arts to be recognized tonight at Charlotte City Council meeting

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx is expected to recognize the Levine Center for the Arts at tonight's city council meeting for winning several recent awards.

The cultural arts and business center last month received three honors from two international real estate organizations.

The Urban Land Institute selected the center as one of 14 developments chosen as a winner in the 2012 Global Awards for Excellence competition, recognized among professionals as one of the land use industry's most prestigious programs.

The arts center, located at the southernmost edge of uptown, also won the 2012 Prix d'Excellence in the category of downtown redevelopment projects from the U.S. chapter of the International Real Estate Federation. It has also been named the winner of the group's Grand Prix award for 2012, the group's highest honor.

"This project is one of the most complex and game changing investments this community has ever undertaken," Ron Kimble, Charlotte's deputy city manager, said in a statement released by Wells Fargo & Co., which owns and helped developed the project. Bob Bertges with Wells Fargo's corporate properties group is also expected to attend tonight's meeting.

The center transformed more than four acres of surface parking lots on three separate blocks into an arts district. In announcing the award, the Urban Land Institute, praised the "progressive architecture interwoven with public art and carefully planned spaces" that "provide the opportunity for new retail and restaurants to activate and enhance the street level experience."

The center  includes the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, John S. and James L. Knight Theater and the Mint Museum Uptown. There is also an office high-rise, the Duke Energy Center.

Project architects and designers include: tvsdesign, Machado and Silvetti Associates, Mario Botta, Wagner Murray Architects, The Freelon Group/Neighboring Concepts and HGOR Planners and Landscape Architects, according to the land institute.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Real estate sales proving 'steady'

The housing market typically is known for having ups and downs - the popular spring selling season, for example, or slow winters.

But 2012 is bucking that trend, according to the latest information from residential real estate giant Allen Tate Cos.

"We have been steady, steady, steady since January," president and chief operating office Pat Riley said in a statement Monday. He said the company has consistently had 55 sales per day and 45 closings per day across its markets in the Carolinas throughout the year.

Recent years, in contrast, had either a more positive first half or second half of the year, he has told the Observer.

Allen Tate expects to end the year with around 15,500 closings, up 20 percent from the past three years and "well on par" with 2008, Riley said.

Some of the reasons cited for the increase: Low interest rates, high rents, and low supply of available homes.

New construction will soon offer competition to the resale market, Riley predicts, as buyers are buying up lots and will offer new homes at prices set for today's market.

In all, he says, he's confident the market has turned the corner.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Parkway close to buying 525 N. Tryon building, sources say

Parkway Properties Inc. could be close to owning its third uptown Charlotte property, sources say.

The real estate investment trust, which announced Wednesday it had bought NASCAR Plaza, is about to finalize a deal to buy 525 N. Tryon St., say sources familiar with the transaction.

The sales price could be around $40 million and the deal could close by Thanksgiving, sources say.

The building, at North Tryon and West Ninth streets, has not been officially on the market.

Parkway made an unsolicited bid for the property, which is owned by a joint venture between Gramercy Capital Corp. and an affiliate of Garrison Investment Group.

Parkway, which is based in Orlando, paid $250 million for the Hearst Tower earlier this year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Charlotte's Crescent Resources makes new hire

Crescent Resources has hired a new executive to lead the underwriting and financing of residential real estate projects.

Jaime Pou, formerly vice president of real estate corporate banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will serve as vice president of investments, managing the financial analysis, risk assessment and investment support as Crescent devotes capital to residential projects. He will manage, evaluate and make recommendations for the long-term investment performance of assets for the division and help guide Crescent's residential real estate strategy.

"Crescent is in a solid position to make high-quality investments in residential real estate and develop one-of-a-kind communities where people love to live," Pou said. "I'm excited to join the team."

The hire is the latest move for Crescent Resources, which has been building on its comeback since exiting bankruptcy protection more than two years ago.

When the company filed for Chapter 11, it listed $2.2 billion in assets and $1.9 billion in total liabilities, including $1.5 billion in bank debt. Known for building luxury master planned communities, the developer was hurt as the residential real estate market softened and it struggled to pay on its debt.

Since emerging from bankruptcy protection with a fraction of the former debt, the company moved forcefully into the apartment market and has become more active in building single family homes.

In August, Crescent completed a private offering of $350 million of senior secured notes due in 2017. It closed on $50 million of a $100 million equity commitment from its existing principal equity holders and entered into a new $50 million revolving credit facility.  The company has said it planned to use the proceeds to make "targeted investments," primarily in residential and multi-family sectors and to refinance existing debt.

Earlier this month, Crescent acquired land for two residential projects, a 258-acre community outside Orlando and a 250-acre single-family community in Oak Point, Texas. In Texas, Crescent is working with another developer to build 700 to 800 homes with development expected to being in the next 18 to 24 months.

In the Charlotte area, Crescent started construction in July on a new phase of homesites at the Springfield community in Fort Mill, S.C. It is the second phase for that community started this year.

Crescent also started work this summer on an upscale amenity center at Chapel Cove, a community off Shopton Road West on Lake Wylie.

The multifamily division, meanwhile, is building a new apartment community in Tampa and continuing work on Circle South Park in Charlotte. In July, Crescent sold another property, Circle at South End, to Post Properties for $74 million, a state record for that apartment type.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New investor interest in Charlotte thanks to DNC?

Charlotte’s office and industrial markets improved during the third quarter compared to last year, with vacancy rates falling and rents increasing.

The Queen City also may benefit from the national attention it received while hosting the Democratic National Convention in September, according to the latest report by Cushman & Wakefield / Thalhimer.

“Several large corporate relocation candidates are now rumored to be interested in the region,” the report says. Investors also remain interested in the city, with well-capitalized investors eyeing office properties including LakePointe, Vanguard Centre, ArrowPoint Office Park and Parkways’ six-building suburban office portfolio.

Investors are also interested in Charlotte’s industrial market. Last quarter, STAG Industrial Inc., for example, completed two acquisitions, one in Pineville and one in Huntersville. Two large, long-vacant buildings were bought: Beacon Partners bought the UAV Building in Fort Mill and The Silverman Group acquired the former Lucent building at 10000 Twin Lakes Parkway.

Office vacancy rates dipped to 12 percent during the quarter from 13.1 percent during the same time last year. Direct asking rents rose nearly 4 percent to $18.94 per square foot a year.

The industrial vacancy rated dipped slightly to 11.8 percent.

The area will still struggle as developers and investors wait before making long-term decisions to see how the U.S. political landscape and economic climate unfold during the next few months.

Tenants will also try to negotiate for good deals, including cheaper rent and extended lease terms, but will have increasing trouble doing so as vacancy shrinks.

On the industrial side, the firm expects to hear or two to three new “sizable” investment sale transactions and build-to-suit projects.  But continued softness in leasing demand and uncertainty in global economy will keep developers cautious in moving forward, the report says. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Charlotte housing market: The perfect mix of favorable conditions, association president says

Charlotte-area home sales prices and closings were up in September, according to the latest data from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.

Homes also spent less time on the market and sellers received more of what they were asking for than this time last year.

"The Charlotte housing market is steadily improving with consistent gains in both closed sales and prices," association president Jennifer Frontera said in a statement.  "We are experiencing the perfect mix of favorable conditions: high affordability, fewer distressed listings, steady demand and inventory that has finally reached equilibrium at six months supply."

Average sales price in September was $206,051, up 4.8 percent compared to September 2011. Median sales price, which real estate professionals say best shows long-term trends, was $160,000, or up 6.7 percent from a year ago.

Sales closed on 2,244 homes during the month, up 14 percent from 1,068.

Sellers nabbed 91.9 percent of the average list price, up from 89.4 percent. Homes were on the market an average 150 days between listing and closing, 18 days fewer than last year.

Fewer people listed homes for sale as the overall inventory for the Charlotte area fell 26.9 percent compared to September 2011. Foreclosures and other distressed sales accounted for 12 percent of new listings and 15.3 percent of closed sales. In September 2011, such sales accounted for 16.5 percent of new listings and nearly 21 percent of sales.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Charlotte's Vue leases 70 units and plans Sky Lounge bar up top

The Vue has leased 70 apartments since this summer, when the uptown high-rise's new owner converted 392 condominium units into rentals.

"We have had overwhelming interest from people wanting to be uptown and to live in the one-of-a-kind Vue high-rise," said David Ravin, president and chief executive officer of Northwood Ravin, which manages the property. Northwood Ravin also is an affiliate of Northwood Investors, which purchased the Vue at foreclosure auction in June.

"We are seeing interest actually accelerate into the fall as people become aware the building now has luxury rental options," Ravin said.

Nearly 60 residents currently live in the building, alongside 16 condo owners. The Vue was built as for-sale luxury condominiums but struggled to close sales after construction finished in fall 2010. The former owner later defaulted on the loan.

Northwood Ravin is also building out several spaces that had been left for future penthouse expansion.  The firm is remodeling the sales center in the building and plans to begin outdoor additions on the eighth floor pool deck this winter.

The company is also building the Sky Lounge on the 50th floor. Work has been permitted and is expected to be finished by New Year's Eve, Northwood Ravin says.

The Sky Lounge will be 3,800 square feet on the Vue's top floor and include a bar and lounge seating overlooking Bank of America Stadium and the new Knight's ballpark.  The lounge, which will be available to residents and guests, will also have a demonstration kitchen and dining room, entertainment room with piano bar, private game room, meeting and conference rooms and a wireless business center with private seating areas overlooking uptown.

These amenities join features already available including 24-hour concierge and security, heated junior Olympic-sized pool and sundeck, and health club with yoga room.

"We really wanted to provide top notch amenities to match the top of the line finishes of the units themselves," Ravin said. "The private Sky Lounge on the 50th floor is really something no one else can offer in Charlotte."

Rent for the units, which range from 650 square feet to 3,586 square feet, is between $1,100 and $5,800 a month.

The conversion to rentals marked the end of two years of uncertainty and legal squabbles for the building.
In 2010, the Vue was lauded as one of the few proposed uptown high-rises that made it up out of the ground despite a crippling recession and weak housing market.

The former developer said he would never lower the luxury-level prices nor convert the building to rentals. Condos started selling in the mid-2000s from just under $200,000 to more than $2 million.

Many would-be buyers lost deposits when they either decided to walk away or couldn't secure financing to complete a sale.

Charlotte's apartment market, meanwhile, has been booming and developers have announced scores of new multifamily projects for the area. Northwood Ravin is actively involved in other local apartment complexes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Double dose of good news for homeowners released today

More good news for the housing market was released today.

This morning, CoreLogic released its August Home Price Index, which showed home prices nationally increasing annually by 4.6 percent in August compared to the previous year. The change is the biggest year-over-year improvement since July 2006, the real estate research firm reported.

In the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill area, home prices rose 3.8 percent in August compared to a year ago. Home prices rose 0.6 percent in August compared to July, according to CoreLogic.

Then, this afternoon Wells Fargo released its regular report on the housing market, which also suggested conditions are improving.

"Housing continues to swim against the economic tide, with more reports tending to show improvement rather than deterioration," the authors wrote.

Among the positive signs noted:

- Expectations for new home construction have been bolstered by increased buyer traffic and assurances from the Federal Reserve that it will continue buying mortgages until well after the economy gets back on its feet again.

- Builder sentiment has continued to increase, with the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Homebuilders’ Index rising to 40 in September.

- Sales of both new and existing homes have also held near their recent higher levels and home buying is likely being constrained by a lack of supply in many areas. Low inventories are one reason that home prices have improved as much as they have in recent months.

- The S&P/Case Shiller 20-city home price index has risen 1.2 percent over the past year, and median new home prices, as measured by the National Association of Realtors are up 9.5 percent from August of last year.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Charlotte's apartment market continues to sizzle

The hot Charlotte apartment market shows no sign of cooling, according to the latest report produced by Real Data.

During the past six months, the average vacancy rate for area apartments continued to improve to reach 5.8 percent -- down from a high of nearly 14 percent in February 2010, the report says. Demand also proved to be strong with 2,490 units absorbed between Feb.12 and Aug. 12.

Rental rates also showed solid growth, rising five percent to an average $839 per month. One bedroom rents average $746 a month, two bedroom units average $855 a month and three bedrooms average $995 a month. Average rents recently bottomed out around $646 in February 2005.

New development continues with 1,608 new units finished during the last six months. Currently, there are 4,329 units being built and another 11,217 units proposed. Many of the units are in the Uptown, South End, Northlake and University City areas.

While lending remains subdued for many types of commercial projects, apartment developers have been able to find capital for projects.

Rents are forecast to grow 5 percent in the next year as average occupancy reaches 95 percent.

The apartment industry typically operates on a boom-bust cycle. While the housing market and commercial development in general has been weak, investors and developers have flocked to the Charlotte multifamily market. 

More people are expected to rent thanks to demographics (more younger professionals moving into the market) and the recent housing bust that has scared some would-be buyers.

Demand will wane, the report says, but it will continue to exceed new supply over the next two years.

Rents are projected to grow, but remain cheaper than the cost of owning a home, Real Data research shows.

And rent growth and occupancy rates are expected to see “significant” growth during the next two years. 

Charlotte-based Hawthorne Retail Partners acquires Pinecrest Plaza for $22.2 million

Hawthorne Retail Partners said Monday is has acquired Pinecrest Plaza in Southern Pines, N.C. for $22.25 million. 

The 280,000-square-foot shopping center is 99 percent leased, the company says.

Hawthorne Retail plans a complete renovation, including facade and landscaping enhancements.

The acquisition marks $40 million worth of deals for the Charlotte-based group during the third quarter.

Other deals include Northcross Commons in Huntersville and North Rivers Market in North Charleston.

In all, Hawthorne Retail is seeking to acquire $200 million worth of shopping centers throughout the Southeast during the next few years and anticipates acquiring additional shopping centers through the rest of this year.

Hawthorne Retail Partners operates and invests in shopping centers located in the Southeast on behalf of third party clients, institutional investors and private investment groups.  Hawthorne Retail Partners is a division of The Hawthorne Companies, a diversified real estate investment and management company, whose other division, Hawthorne Residential Partners, is a Greensboro based apartment management and investment company. Collectively, the Hawthorne Companies manages over 90 properties throughout the Southeast.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

e2 restaurant in uptown Charlotte earns LEED certification

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's new Charlotte eatery, e2, has become the first Charlotte restaurant to be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design).

The restaurant, located on Levine Avenue of the Arts in uptown, was judged on the sustainability of its site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere and innovation in design.

"Earning LEED certification shows we're serious about being a sustainable, environmentally focused and local farmer-friendly restaurant," Lagasse said in a statement. "By committing ourselves to LEED principals, we're providing our customers a promise of fresh, high-quality food and sustainable operations."

More commercial developments are seeking LEED status these days.

Local projects that have received LEED certification include Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne, 1 Bank of America Center, Crescent Resources' Circle apartment complexes in South End and South Park and WESCO Distribution Inc.'s Charlotte warehouse.

To plan and build the restaurant, e2 partnered with Wells Fargo, Philadelphia architecture firm Floss Barber and LEED certification expert tvsdesign, along with local firms Balfour Beatty, Barrett Woodyard & Associates, Tobin Starr + Partners and Childress Klein.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Charlotte's Circle at South End sells for near-record price

Crescent Resources has sold its Circle at South End complex for $74 million, a near-record price for an N.C. apartment community.

Circle at South End was sold to an undisclosed buyer, according to a press release from the developer.

“This transaction speaks volumes about the results and differentiation of our multifamily developments,” said Brian Natwick, president of multifamily with Crescent Resources. "Like all our apartment communities, we started Circle at South End with an irreplaceable location and infused it with high-quality products and green features as well as innovative programming."

With 360 units and 8,000 square feet of retail space, the Circle’s buyer paid roughly $205,555 per unit.

The highest price paid for an apartment project was $103.375 million, or $223,755 per unit, for the 462-unit Catalyst, which was sold in March 2011, according to research from Real Data.

Investors and developers have become increasingly bullish on the apartment market as the rest of commercial development remains relatively flat. More people are expected to turn to renting as mortgages remain difficult to get. Other people may be scared of a still-soft housing market.

Circle at South End opened in May 2009, the first 100-percent smoke-free Charlotte community. Located less than one mile from uptown, the project has been 100 percent leased since opening, according to the developer.

Sarofim Realty Advisors was Crescent Resources’ capital partner in the project. CBRE Group represented Crescent in the sale.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jetton Medical in Cornelius sells for $10.75 million

Merrifield Patrick Vermillion, LLC has sold two medical office buildings in Cornelius for $10.75 million.

Novant Medical Group anchors the the buildings, known as Jetton Medical and located at 19475 and 19485 Old Jetton Rd. 

The buildings were developed by Merrifield Partners and finished in 2007. Mark Newell represented the seller.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Carolinas AGC selling its three buildings in Dilworth

The Carolinas AGC is selling three office buildings in the heart of Dilworth.

The local chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America is selling six parcels bordering Euclid, Lexington and Templeton avenues. The site consists of nearly 40,000 square feet spread over three office buildings on less than 3 acres. The property is one block from Morehead Street and one block from South Boulevard.

Merrifield Patrick Vermillion, LLC has been hired to market the property.

Cynthia Mills, Carolinas AGC President and CEO, said in a statement: "Our association has experienced dramatic changes over the past decade due in particular to advances in technology." 

The group, she said is implementing a new strategic plan that includes disposing of the properties and relocating to a new building in Charlotte.

"As attractive as this site is, it no longer meets our needs," she said.

Bailey Patrick and Stephen Woodard are the lead brokers. Patrick said they are excited about the opportunity the site could present for office users as well as office, institutional and multifamily developers looking for "prime infill real estate."

New apartments planned near Northlake Mall

Developers have announced yet another new apartment complex for the Charlotte area.

Perimeter Lofts, a 246-unit apartment community, is being developed in the Northlake area, about 10 miles north of uptown.

The developer, Wood Partners, is building the complex on 10.6 acres at 10110 Perimeter Parkway. It will consist of two four-story buildings and six carriage buildings and offer a mix of flats, lofts, and what it calls direct access "brownstone" units.

Leasing is expected to start in January and construction will be finished by July 2013.

Wood Partners director Carter Siegel said in a statement the residents will "experience a resort like environment created by the two connected courtyards with multiple pocket parks and lawns" and an oversized pool area.

The apartments will be across the street from Northlake Mall and visible from Interstate 77. Amenities will include a clubhouse, cyber cafe, movie and game room, salt water pool with outdoor cabanas, grilling areas, dog park, pet spa and care center.

A growing number of developers have announced intentions to build new apartments in the Charlotte area. They believe there is a growing number of potential renters as people shy from the weak housing market.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New two- and three-bedroom townhomes coming to Dilworth

A new townhome project is coming to Dilworth this summer with pre-sales starting this week, underscoring the condo market’s increasing embrace of smaller projects rather than high-rises.

The Cottages on Euclid will feature 19 New England-style two- and three-bedroom townhomes offering a garage, front porch and rear patio.

The project, located off Euclid Avenue between McDonald and East Tremont avenues, is being developed by Wendy Field, a former real estate executive with Bank of America and a real estate consultant.

Field originally planned to build a mid-rise condo project on the roughly one-acre site, but shelved those plans as the condo market crumbled with the economy in the late 2000s. In the center city, at least two high-rise condo projects turned to rentals. Another, the Vue, was sold last week in a foreclosure auction.

Field decided to build a smaller community, what she describes as “a pocket neighborhood.”

“We overbuilt the highrise, the midrise, the generic product that you take an elevator up to,” she said. “(Smaller) appeals to people in this down economy. People want to feel like they can nest.”

“I started thinking about what was missing in Charlotte,” Field said. “There’s a lot of people who want to (live in) one of 19 units, not one of 100 or 400.”

While home prices and sales volume remain far off the highs seen in the mid-2000s, Charlotte’s residential housing market has shown signs of renewed life in recent months.

Real estate analyst Emma Littlejohn sees demand for well-priced, appropriately sized, newly built condos and townhomes because supply is tight. Developers largely haven’t been able to get financing to build projects, so new construction has become rare.

Most buyers want units priced around or under $300,000, she said.

“The headwinds have lessened and there’s certainly demand for new construction,” said Littlejohn, of The Littlejohn Group, a Charlotte-based real estate consulting firm. “But it is an uphill battle. Credit issues and job security are limiting people (from being able to buy).”

The Cottages will range from 1,260 square feet to 1,565 square feet and include Jenn-Air appliances, gas cooktops, crown molding and French doors. Landscaping will feature wrought iron lanterns. Construction will begin either in late June or July and the first five units will be finished by the end of the year. Prices range from $350,000 to $460,000.

Tom Dorsett of Dorsett Construction is the general contractor.

Field said she has financing for the project lined up with Fannie Mae and has recruited lenders to serve buyers.

Littlejohn, the analyst, said pre-sales could prove challenging in this economy because buyers want to be able to see the product and know they can move in quickly.

Field said she isn’t worried about pre-sales because “I’ve got pieces the market wants and can build in phases.” Pre-sales start Thursday.

Real estate appraiser Fitzhugh Stout with Integra Realty Resources said the condo market remains weak but that there may be more demand for townhomes, where units are not stacked atop one another.

“If she can pre-sell at that price point,” he said, “that will be the key.”

For information about The Cottages on Euclid visit

The rending was done by David L. Hartley, Architectural Illustration.
Photo of Tom Dorsett of Dorsett Construction and Wendy Field was taken by Kensley Nelson, The Cottages on Euclid. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Work starts on Circle South Park luxury apartments

Construction started Monday on Circle South Park - a $52 million luxury apartment community by Crescent Resources near Piedmont Town Center in SouthPark.

The apartments, expected to be available in summer 2013, include 321 homes on a site on Carnegie Boulevard and are designed to feature classical traditional architecture, according to a press release.

Circle South Park is being financed by an equity investment from Crescent, construction financing from J.P. Morgan Real Estate Banking, and mezzanine financing from Nationwide Real Estate Investments.

The complex will be the third Circle community community developed by Crescent in the Charlotte area. Circle communities offer programs such as pet happy hours and volunteer opportunities, to enrich social experiences and foster a sense of community among residents. The South Park project will feature a multistory health club, two-acre dog park, pond with walking trail and a saltwater pool with sun deck.

Apartments will include a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom floor plans and feature stainless steel appliances and stone countertops.

Contractors involved include: architect The Preston Partnership, LLC; landscape artchitect LandDesign; civil engineer ColeJenest & Stone; interior designer Vignette Interior Design;  general contractor State Building Group and property management firm Greystar.

Thompson Child & Family Focus buys land on Wendover Avenue, prepares for move

Thompson Child & Family Focus has bought 3.65 acres of land on Wendover Road, where it plans to relocate its foster care, family education and outpatient mental health services and programs from its Seventh Street campus.

The sale, which closed in late May, includes two buildings totaling 13,456 square feet at 769 and 749 N. Wendover Ave. Thompson paid $1.15 million.

Founded in 1886 as an orphanage, the nonprofit offers child advocacy and support services for children from birth through age 18. Thompson has three campuses offering education, treatment and care for families with children who have been abused or neglected. One campus is on Saint Peter's Lane in Matthews, one is on Clanton Road in Charlotte and one is on East 7th Street in Charlotte.

The nonprofit plans to sell the Seventh Street campus, which includes a 14,732 square-foot building.
Joe Wilkinson with NAI Southern Real Estate is representing Thompson in both the purchase of its new property and the sale of its existing campus.

The agency asked the Charlotte City Council earlier this year to rezone the land on Wendover from residential to an office category to make way for the move. The property, in the Grier Heights neighborhood, has more room for future expansion, the agency has said. The property became available because of a foreclosure, according to the agency.

"Our relocation to Grier Heights is a strategic, proactive response to consumer needs, including accessibility," said Ginny Amendum, Thompson's president, in a statement. "Establishing a campus in Grier Heights brings to this community critical services that stabilize and improve lives."

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Short sales and other pre-foreclosure sales on the rise

More than one-quarter of all U.S. home sales in the first quarter involved homes that were either in some stage of foreclosure of were bank-owned, according to real estate research firm RealtyTrac. Twenty-six percent of 1st quarter home sales involved distressed properties, up from 22 percent during the fourth quarter 2011 and up from 25 percent of sales from a year ago.
Distressed homes sold for an average price of $161,214 in the first quarter, 27 percent less than what homes that were not in foreclosure sold for, according to RealtyTrac.
Pre-foreclosure sales including short sales ­- where the homeowner is selling a house for less than the amount owed  - also hit a three-year high in the first quarter as lenders were more willing to approve such deals, said RealtyTrac chief executive Brandon Moore.

Home sale data released recently suggest the housing market is improving. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, for example, showed average home prices in Charlotte increased 0.4 percent in March compared to a year earlier.

Foreclosure sales were the highest proportionately in Nevada, California and Georgia, accounting for 56 percent, 47 percent and 46 percent of sales, respectively.

In North Carolina, foreclosures accounted for 12 percent of sales and in South Carolina foreclosures made up 16 percent of home sales in the first quarter.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blue Heron Capital buys raleigh apartment complex

Charlotte-based Blue Heron Capital LLC has acquired Pine Winds Apartments in Raleigh. The real estate investment company paid $13.9 million for the 216-unit multifamily community.

The purchase demonstrates the company's confidence in the Triangle market, said Blue Heron managing partner John Trotter in a statement.

"Raleigh is projected to lead the nation in job growth and we are excited about the opportunity to enter the market with the acquisition of Pine Winds," he said.

Blue Heron owns and operates properties in Mooresville and Columbia, S.C.

Updated information on rents at The Edison

An article I wrote last week about a new apartment complex in Plaza Midwood mixed up some important numbers.

The Edison, to be built at Pecan and Commonwealth avenues, will feature 53 apartments that are smaller and less expensive than the city average and cater to renters who like to walk and enjoy the eclectic east Charlotte neighborhood.

Rents on the units will start at $800 per month for a 500-square-feet apartment. A two-bedroom unit with upscale finishes will start around $980 a month.

The project is being developed by Lat Purser & Associates Inc. of Charlotte. The firm, which bought the land a few months ago, is focusing on smaller, in-fill projects.

Monday, May 21, 2012

VUE Charlotte foreclosure auction set

The luxury condominium tower The Vue is set to be sold at public auction at 10:15 a.m. June 12 on the first floor of the Mecklenburg County Superior Courthouse.
Clerk of Superior Court Martha Curran signed an order Monday clearing the way for the lender to foreclose on the 409-unit building at Fifth and Pine streets.
The entire building and its contents will be sold at once, excluding the condos and parking spaces that have already been sold to individual buyers. Buyers have closed on less than two dozen units on the luxury highrise.
Neither the borrower nor a representative of the Vue attended the roughly 20-minute hearing.
The Vue's developer, MCL Cos. of Chicago, defaulted on its loan, and the current owner of the debt, New York-based Northwood Investments, accelerated the loan and started foreclosure proceedings in April, according to court filings.
The current debt holder, identified in court papers as NWSF LLC, lists its address as Northwood Investments in New York.
Northwood Investments paid around $100 million for the project's $195 million construction loan, it has been reported.
The tower has struggled since it was finished in 2010. When sales started in the mid-2000s, the building was touted as one of uptown's most luxurious residences, offering the highest-quality amenities, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and tennis courts.
The Vue's condos started selling from just under $200,000 to more than $2 million. Buyers paid 10 percent of the contracted sales price as a deposit. Developer Dan McLean has said that more than half the building was pre-sold but agents struggled to close sales. Some buyers couldn’t get financing because appraisals came in under contracted sales prices. Others simply wanted out of their contracts.
Some people have successfully sued the Vue to return their deposits but are now less likely to get their money back, attorneys say.
Real estate professionals say the building could be ripe for a conversion to apartments. Other uptown condo projects have been changed into rentals after the real estate market fizzled.
As the Charlotte housing market has struggled, more people have turned to renting versus buying a home, fueling interest in the apartment market.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Charlotte's office vacancy rate falls while the warehouse vacancy rate rises

The vacancy rate for Charlotte’s office market in the first quarter ticked down to 17.9 percent from the annualized 18.4 percent in 2011, according to the latest report by research firm Karnes.
Demand outpaced supply during the quarter, despite the addition of nearly 22,000 square feet of new space in the Honda Financial Building in Ballantyne.
Charlotte’s suburban market dominated the demand during the quarter, while the Midtown area also posted strong gains as 17,000 square feet of space was removed from the market.
The largest new tenant moves occurred in Ballantyne, thanks to Mitsubishi Nuclear moving into 25,175 square feet of the Hayes Building and Honda Financial Services opening a new building in Ballantyne Corporate Park.
At $21.95 a square foot, average rents are creeping up from lows of $21.77 in 2010. Rents hit a recent high of $22.38 in 2008, according to Karnes.
The Charlotte area has more than 49.25 million square feet of office space in buildings that are 15,00 square feet or larger.
The warehouse and industrial market vacancy rate, meanwhile, rose slightly to 13.4 percent from 13.3 percent reported for the end of 2011. Average rents also dipped to $4.04 from $4.05 for warehouse space and to $8.22 from $8.26 for flex space. The market has more than 43.3 million square feet of warehouse and flex buildings.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

North Carolina golf course up for auction

Interested in buying a golf course? There's one coming up for auction
next month.

The owners of Pine Knolls Golf Club in Kernersville are putting their
18-hole golf course and club up for sale.

Nestled between Winston-Salem and Greensboro, the Pine Knolls Golf
Club features a public 151-acre  course, driving range, swimming pool,
pavilion, clubhouse, pro-shop, bar and grill. The starting bid is

An increasing number of golf clubs have closed or changed hands since
the recession. Some have shuttered because of falling revenues. Fewer
people are joining clubs and existing members are playing fewer rounds
and spending less on services, according to national trade
associations. Other clubs have been targeted for foreclosure because
the owners defaulted on loans or couldn't refinance.

In the Charlotte area, Firethorne Country Club in Marvin was scheduled
to be sold after the club defaulted on its loan. The club later filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. More recently, real estate mogul
Donald Trump bought The Point Lake and Golf Club near Mooresville.
Club members say the club was financially sound but in need of costly
renovations. Trump has said he plans to pump millions into the Greg
Norman-designed course and club to make it a world-class facility.

The bank started foreclosure proceedings against Pine Knolls' owner,
Hibernia Holdings, and its principals, last year, according to court

Mark Troen, chief operating officer with the company hired to sell
club, said the entire recreation industry is struggling. His firm,
Racebrook Marketing Concepts, a private equity firm based in New
York, has sold golf courses, ski areas and marinas.

"Every one of these venues has experienced an upheaval and change and
golf courses are clearly part of it," he said. "There was tremendous
investment in the first part of the last decade, and now they are
paying the price for that over-investment."

Troen said his firm has found there are three types of buyers
interested in golf clubs: The entrepreneur who loves golf and wants to
turn a hobby into a job; institutional buyers and large corporations
that already own golf clubs that want to expand their holdings; and
local businesses that want to own a golf course so they can brand the
course and market themselves.

The public auction will be held June 13 at the Marriott Winston-Salem,
460 N. Cherry Street, Winston-Salem. Registration begins at 10 a.m.
and the auction starts at 11 a.m.  For more information go to

Staff researcher Maria David contributed.