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.