Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Charlotte economic developer: Boeing's a 'long shot'

Speaking to a gathering of corporate real estate professionals today, one of the region's top job recruiters said Charlotte is a "long shot" to win the emerging national bidding war for Boeing's planned 777X aircraft manufacturing plant.

Ronnie Bryant, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, made the comment during a speech at the City Club uptown to the Carolinas chapter of CoreNet Global, a professional group with chapters around the world. Bryant, whose group markets the 16-county Charlotte region to outside companies, said the Queen City is extremely competitive in recruiting jobs in many industries, including aerospace.

But referring to the quest to land the Boeing plant, he said: "I think it's a long shot for this market." Asked for elaboration after the event ended, Bryant told the Observer he didn't know if Charlotte and North Carolina would be able to match the kind of incentives other competitors are offering.

Charlotte is among more than a dozen cities and states submitting bids to win the plant and thousands of good-paying jobs that would come with it. Washington state, already home to a large Boeing presence, has offered an $8.7 billion incentives package to keep the new jobs there. "That's a big number," Bryant said. "We've never approved anything like that."

Gov. Pat McCrory and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker have declined to talk about the project. Bryant said his group isn't involved. "I don't see it," he said, referring to the chances of Charlotte getting the plant. "But maybe someone sees something I don't see."

Charlotte's economic future hinges on minority influx, chamber head says

Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan told a group of tax and accounting professionals this morning that the Queen City has come out of the recession poised for strong economic and population growth. Speaking to the Dixon Hughes Goodman accounting firm's annual Executive Tax Briefing event at the Ritz Carlton, Morgan said the city was the fastest-growing urbanized area in the nation during the first decade of the 21st century. The county's population hit 1 million earlier this year, and he said projections call for the metropolitan area to hit 4.8 million people by 2030.

Morgan attributed the growth to several factors: the continued migration of people from the Northeast to the South and West, hurricane-weary ex-Northerners who want to leave Florida but don't want a full return to the snowy North, greater numbers of young people heading to Charlotte, and the reverse migration of African Americans to the South. He pointed to a report by Black Enterprise magazine that suggested Dallas, Atlanta and Charlotte are their top three destinations.

Bob Morgan (left) with Dixon Hughes Goodman regional managing partner Matt Snow
He put up a chart showing that while Charlotte grew by 32 percent in the first decade of the new century, the white population grew by 14 percent, compared to almost 50 percent growth in the African American population.

"We talk a lot at the chamber about the importance of diversity. Not only do we think it's the right thing to do, but we think there's a business case to be made in numbers like this," he said. "The trends of diversity are only going to increase as we go forward, and for us in the Chamber of Commerce that purports to represent this marketplace, if we don't understand and relate to this growing diversity, we're not going to be relevant at some point in the future."

He added that growth brings the kind of scale -- and workforce -- necessary to attract big companies like Siemens, the turbine engine manufacturer with a large and growing Charlotte operation off Westinghouse Boulevard. While few local officials are talking much about the city's effort to win Boeing's planned new 777X aircraft plant, Morgan said the success a big manufacturer like Siemens has enjoyed in Charlotte certainly wouldn't hurt the city's case.

"As we go about pitching Charlotte to companies like Boeing, you can be sure that the Siemens story will be a key part of what we talk about."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Boeing deadline day arrives

Today's the deadline for Charlotte and the dozen or more other interested states and cities to submit applications in hopes of landing the Boeing plant that will build the new 777X airliner. It's perhaps the biggest job recruitment prize to come up for grabs around here in years. If Gov. Pat McCrory and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker feel good about the locations the state is submitting for Boeing's consideration, they weren't saying yesterday when my colleagues and I asked about it during a Charlotte Chamber event.

Several people I've talked to in N.C. economic development circles privately question whether North Carolina really has a fighting chance. They speculate that Boeing is just shopping the plant around to get the union there in Washington state to accept concessions. (If this letter from an upset Boeing machinist is any guide, the company's ties to the Puget Sound region run extremely deep, and yet union sentiment is strongly against the deal). Judging from this New York Times report, and other things I've read, it appears the machinists feel their experience and expertise in building airplanes make it a risky proposition for Boeing to go elsewhere. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee went so far as to use the words "potential disaster" to describe the kind of delays Boeing has seen at its Charleston, S.C. plant.

Clearly Washington's not letting its largest private employer go without a fight. Lawmakers there last month passed an $8.7 billion incentives package that some call the largest in U.S. history. Is Boeing worth that high a price? I guess we'll see soon enough what North Carolina and Charlotte have to say about that.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Is a Charlotte-Triad-Triangle 'Megalopolis' in North Carolina's future?

UNC Chapel Hill researchers are projecting that by 2050, North Carolina could well have its own version of the so-called 'Megalopolis' that is today's Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia-New York City-Boston corridor. A new study by the Carolina Population Center at UNC suggests that by 2050, the Charlotte-Greensboro-Raleigh corridor will have grown into an urbanized corridor similar to the one comprised by the major metros of the Northeast. (Check out the video simulation below showing what the mapped-out version of the N.C. data looks like over time).

The study uses Census data and demographic analysis to map out the state's housing growth from 1940 to 2050. It puts new statistical context on a dynamic we already know about -- that lots of people and industry are moving to the state. (My story on today's front page reinforces the rising development profile of both Charlotte and Raleigh). But that growth could also pose planning challenges, and the study's authors say it raises questions about the need for new roads, water lines and other infrastructure investments.

“This is one potential look at the future,” said Rebecca Tippett, director of Carolina Demography, the unit at the Carolina Population Center that produced the data. “Where and how development occurs is very responsive to policy and planning, and I hope this sparks conversations about what we might want North Carolina to look like in 2050.”

I found myself trying to imagine what smaller cities like Salisbury and Lexington would look like and feel like if the urban sprawl from Charlotte and Greensboro and Raleigh overtook them. They all have that sleepy small-town feel when you drive through (or more accurately, past) them on Interstate 85. Hard to imagine them as fully urbanized arms of Charlotte and Greenville. But then again, people in Atlanta probably never figured on the Braves moving to Cobb County, either.

Do you think it'll happen? If it does, would a hyper-urbanized Interstate 85 corridor be a good thing for North Carolina? 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

More development in FreeMore West/Freedom Drive corridor

Stophel Commercial Properties says it recently closed on the 55,000-square-foot former Berry Manufacturing building at 1921 Freedom Drive. It's the latest bit of development on the still-blossoming area around West Morehead Street and Freedom Drive that boosters have dubbed FreeMore West. Stophel plans to house several of its businesses -- Carpet One and the Stophel REO Group -- in the building, which it bought from F&N Family Partnership of Lawrence, N.Y., for an undisclosed sum. (The property has an assessed value of $1.3 million). Jim McAuliffe of NMKT Commercial represented Stophel in the deal; Brooks Whiteside of Whiteside Industrial represented the seller.

The area continues to develop nicely. Years ago, I used to get my beloved but constantly malfunctioning '95 Audi  fixed at the repair shop at Freedom and Morehead. Wasn't much else happening to bring me to that area then. But now the repair shop is Pinky's Westside Grill (love that they kept the VW Beetle on the roof), one of an array of cool new eateries in the area. More residential development is on the way as well. Ryan Homes and the Simonini Group broke ground in September on their planned 251-home project at Bryant Park, situated on 30 acres on Millerton Avenue off West Morehead. Nice to see the area continuing to bloom.

Monday, November 4, 2013

World of Outlaws dirt track race: Cabarrus County's $8 million mudfest

Who knew there were so many dollars in the dirt?

The World of Outlaws World Finals, called by one public relations rep the "Super Bowl of grassroots dirt track racing," is returning to The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway this week. It's bringing more than 40,000 spectators from Thursday to Saturday and an estimated impact on the local economy of $8 million.
Courtesy CMS/HHP Photo
John Mills, executive vice president of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors' Bureau, said the festivities will bring in $5 million in direct visitor spending on hotels, food, transportation and retail stores, and another $3 million in estimated indirect and induced spending.

"It's a great event," Mills said. "It's a pretty big one for us, so we're glad to have it here."

People from all 50 states are coming, along with others from Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Hotels on Bruton Smith Boulevard were filling up late last week, said Scott Cooper, a Charlotte Motor Speedway spokesman. 

Who says the economic development game is just for high-powered corporate CEOs?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Charlotte job-recruiters heading to Germany

On Friday, a delegation representing Charlotte’s business sector is scheduled to fly to Germany on a job-recruitment trip.

Their goal: to bring more companies and more jobs to Charlotte. They’ve got meetings scheduled with 10 German companies during their four-day stay, hoping to convince them to set up shop in the Queen City.

Sven Gerzer, a vice president for economic development with the Charlotte Chamber, summed up the objective in two words: “Plant seeds.”

You could say they’re playing to Charlotte’s strength. Some 127 German companies already have operations in Charlotte, according to chamber statistics for 2012. That makes Germany by far the country with the biggest business presence in Charlotte. (The United Kingdom ranks No. 2 with 84 firms).
Gerzer, a native of Munich, will be a key salesman for Charlotte. He speaks German and understands the culture, having grown up there. But he also knows the Carolinas. He graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in international studies from the University of South Carolina's highly touted program. (He chose the university after his parents said he could go anywhere in the world for college – but he’d be helping to pay for it, he recalled with a chuckle).

His personal story might prove persuasive to German business leaders. He enjoys life here in the Carolinas that he has no desire to return to Germany. “I love it here,” he says. “It makes my job (selling the city to companies) easier because I believe what I tell them.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Twelve ways Charlotte is superior to other cities

So I was over at the Charlotte Chamber the other day and picked up a handy sheet listing all the "Top 10" -style lists Charlotte has made this year. Since we're always wondering how we fare compared to other places, I thought it'd be an interesting item to share. So, here's 12 lists where Charlotte (and North Carolina) ranked in the Top 12 this year:

  • No. 12 Top State for Business. (CNBC ranking of all states).
  • No. 11 Top Boomtown (Bloomberg ranking of all large metro areas).
  • No. 9 Most Job Openings per Capita ( May 2013 ranking of 50 cities).
  • No. 9 Top Moving Destination (Penske Truck Rental).
  • No. 8 Best City for Jobs (, May 2013).
  • No. 7 Top Cities for Small Business (, August 2013).
  • No. 7 Spring Break Destination for Families ( list of 500 cities).
  • No. 6 Hot Cities for IT Jobs (Modis, Inc., ranking of 10 cities).
  • No. 5 Most Installed Solar Power Generation Capacity (SNL Energy ranking of all states).
  • No. 5 Fastest Growing Metro 2000-2012 (U.S. Census ranking of 52 metro areas).
  • No. 4 Fastest Growing City Since Recession (
  • No. 2 Best Airport for Making Connections (Travel Leaders Group ranking of U.S. airports).
Our little Top 12 list would've been more tidy and complete if we could've filled in slots No. 10, No. 3 and No. 1.  Just for kicks, if you were compiling your own list of the Top 12 things Charlotte ranked highest in among cities, what would you pencil in for those spots?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Big speculative building going up in Concord

The Silverman Group out of New Jersey is doing something that hasn't gotten done very often around here in recent years: it's breaking ground on a big speculative industrial building, and betting that tenants will come later. The firm says it's breaking ground this week on a 400,000-square-foot building in Concord Airport Business Park. For comparison sake, when insurance giant MetLife announced this spring that it is bringing its U.S. retail business hub to Charlotte, officials said the firm would occupy roughly 340,000 square feet in Ballantyne Corporate Park.

"The market for Class A distribution space in the greater Charlotte market is very tight," said Blake Silverman, president of the Silverman Group. "There are no Class A vacancies greater than 200,000 square feet, which is why we were intrigued by this opportunity ... There are currently very few buildings in the market to accommodate tenants needing large blocks of space."

Boosters for uptown Charlotte have been saying they need more large blocks of office space, but wary developers haven't been willing to put up the massive amount of capital it would take to put another skyscraper in without a major tenant already lined up.

Construction on the Concord building is slated to start in the first quarter of 2014 with completion expected in late summer. Christopher Skibinski, an Avison Young principal based in Charlotte, is the leasing agent.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Former City Manager Curt Walton's new gig

Former Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton has a new gig: interim head of University City Partners, the group charged with promoting the University City area. The group's board formally made the announcement via a press release this morning, after news reports Thursday said longtime executive director Mary Hopper had resigned.

The press release doesn't say why she left. She'd led the group since July 2003, and the press release, issued on behalf of the group's board of directors, credited her with helping promote the University City brand and leaving her imprint on local land use and transportation issues. The board "is grateful for Mary's service and contributions; her impact on the University Area will continue to benefit our residents and help attract business."

The board has contracted with LevRidge Resources for help during the transition, the release says, and through that agreement the board has retained Walton to serve as interim executive director while a search for a permanent head moves forward. The board expects to name someone before year's end.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Swiss plasma giant expands in Charlotte

The U.S. subsidiary of one of the world's largest plasma products manufacturers is relocating to a new facility it is building in southwest Charlotte, the Charlotte Chamber announced Thursday.

Octapharma AG, an independent firm specializing in human proteins, is investing $39.2 million to build a state-of-the-art facility in the Westlake Business Park. The expansion of the firm's U.S. subsidiary, Octapharma Plasma, will create 45 new full-time positions.

The subsidiary's corporate office moved to Charlotte in 2009. The company said the expansion will position it to serve the U.S. market from one location. "This step is a natural progression in our strategic planning," said Frederic Marguerre, president of Octapharma Plasma.

Octapharma Plasma owns and operates plasma collection centers around the country. The parent company, based in Lachen, Switzerland, serves patients in more than 100 countries.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Charlotte's center city headed for international spotlight

This just in via press release: since "the amazing growth of Charlotte's downtown has drawn both national and international attention," it will be used as a case study next week in New York when urban management experts from around the world get together for the International Downtown Association's World Congress.

The conference will draw nearly 700 downtown and urban district leaders from around the United States, Canada and 11 other countries. They'll talk about the evolution of city centers and share best practices, in addition to hearing from national and international urban affairs experts.

Charlotte Center City Partners President Michael Smith will speak Tuesday during a panel discussion on how cultural partnerships can spur development and revitalize neighborhoods. Charlotte does have something to brag about on that score, judging from the new life the Mint Museum, the Harvey B. Gantt Center and the Knight Theater have breathed into a formerly lifeless stretch of south Tryon Street.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ballantyne developer Smoky Bissell rocks a mean miniskirt

H.C. "Smoky" Bissell is best known as the driving force behind the company that developed Ballantyne. But who knew the man also had great legs? That's what folks here in the newsroom were saying after someone noticed that Edwin Peacock, former City Council member turned mayoral candidate, had on Monday tweeted a picture of himself and Smoky, both all dolled up in dresses and high heels, for last weekend's Stiletto Sprint benefitting the Carolinas Ovarian Cancer Fund at Levine Cancer Institute.

Bissell, who in 2004 served as chair of the Dare to Dream campaign to build Levine Children's Hospital, apparently is a man who really gets into his charitable work. In the photo, he's wearing not just a dress, but a miniskirt, accented by what looks to be red stockings reaching nearly to his knees. A blonde wig tops off the ensemble nicely. Peacock sports a slightly longer dress (and paler legs) along with some seriously avant-garde sunglasses.

The Bissell Cos. was the presenting sponsor of the event. Bissell's wife, Sara, died in 2009 after a long battle with cancer. Can imagine she got a good chuckle from the Hereafter at the sight of her beloved.

No word on whether he actually won the race, a 60-70 yard dash in heels.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The top 10 job sectors driving Charlotte's economy

The CareerBuilder job search Website and its subsidiary, Economic Modeling Specialists International, have come up with a fascinating interactive map and database that pops the hood on regional economies and pinpoints the job sectors that are key drivers for each area.

Click on Charlotte on the map and you'll find the Queen City's key drivers (and their percentage job growth since 2010) are:

  • Management of companies and enterprises -- 2%
  • Depository credit intermediation (banking) -- 5%
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services -- 22%
  • Nondepository credit intermediation -- 15%
  • Scheduled air transportation -- 17%
  • Data processing, hosting and related services -- 14%
  • Other financial investment activities -- 20%
  • Spectator sports -- 37%
  • Wired telecommunications carriers -- 31%
  • Engine, turbine and power transmission equipment manufacturing -- 75%
It's an interesting mix of "we already knew that" jobs (financial sector)  and "say what?" jobs (spectator sports? Did two more professional sports teams move to Charlotte?). The one that jumps out at me -- other than that -- is engine, turbine and power transmission manufacturing, whose 2,477 jobs for 2013 represents a 75 percent increase over 2010. With $100,000 average salaries, you can see where this is a very encouraging sign -- and one that local officials and economic developers need to be pushing as much as possible.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Look who made the Top 5 hiring companies in Charlotte

With the unemployment rate still too high for comfort in North Carolina, it's always nice to get a glimpse of any data on who's hiring. The folks at Simply Hired, one of the many online job search services, have been sending me monthly updates on the job openings they see in their database for Charlotte. The one for August is interesting. Here's their top five hiring companies in town for the month:

1. Carolinas Healthcare System -- 743 jobs

2. Harris Teeter -- 711 jobs

3. Novant Health -- 617 jobs

4. Bank of America -- 580 jobs

5. Great Clips -- 542 jobs

Let's say it together, shall we? GREAT CLIPS??!! I imagine the hair-cutting chain is pretty popular. (I see about two dozen locations on a quick white pages search). But Top 5 hiring popular?? I've asked the Simply Hired folks to tell me whether these are all hairstylist jobs or if the company just announced some new corporate relocation to the city that I haven't heard about. Will update if/when I hear something.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

State film incentives: job creators, or fool's gold?

I've been getting a lot of feedback after having written this article and this one, looking at the efforts by local entrepreneur Bert Hesse and California-based Pacifica Ventures effort to build a massive movie studio complex on the Eastland Mall site. Some of the people writing me in the wake are saying it would be a shame to see North Carolina let its film incentive program die in 2014, as the TV and movie industry jobs created will simply migrate to other states. Others say its a shaky proposition that could leave the city holding a multi-million dollar liability.

I'd relayed the point in one of the stories that some say TV productions, which can stay around for years, might make better investments than movies for states looking to lure productions to town. Dana Arnold,
CEO of Pacifica Ventures, emailed me this response:

Both features and television create longterm crew development that generate permanent jobs.  Yes, permanent jobs! 

It is true that feature films do come and go, but with a competitive, politically supported incentive program… the feature films keep coming (as well as going) and as they come and go, they provide a stream of work to the same local crews, over and over again. 

A carpenter working at framing houses might make $55,000 a year as a "full" time employee working 12 months of the year for one employer ("trackable" full time employment, by job category): that same carpenter would most likely make over $85,000 per year building sets for two different features, but might only work for 7 months (considered part-time, by job category). 

If you were a carpenter, which job would you want???

What is missing in North Carolina is the "brick and mortar" infrastructure of permanent studio facilities… which is what Eastland will provide to Charlotte.

However, as you are well aware, the politics of film and television incentives can be "incendiary": especially when it means financially supporting the major studios with substantial financial incentives to bring their work.  

I find it hard to understand why incentives for auto parts manufacturing, oil drilling, airplane assembly, or chip foundries are somehow more politically appropriate than incentivizing media production.

Given the strong feelings that surround film incentives, I thought it'd be interesting to give one of its more motivated backers a chance to make his case publicly. Having heard him, what do you think?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Online marketing firm adding 130 jobs in Charlotte

Online marketing firm Yodle is moving to bigger offices in the university area and doubling its Charlotte employee count by adding about 130 jobs, officials announced Tuesday. Most of the new jobs at a 35,000-square-foot office on Claude Freeman Drive will be in sales. The others primarily will be in client services.

Yodle, which has more than 1,100 employees in six offices around the country, offers online marketing services to small businesses. It reports generating more than $130 million in annual revenues. The company has seen "significant growth" in Charlotte since setting up shop here in 2007, said Michael Gordon, chief financial officer. "With Charlotte's talented labor pool and business friendly climate," he added, "we look forward to continued growth in the years to come."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Confused by the N.C. tax law changes? This will help

The N.C. General Assembly made so many changes to the tax code last session that most of us are still trying to figure out exactly what it all means. And, if you're anything like me, what you're really wondering is: did they figure out a new way to stick it to me come tax time? Help is on the way for confused taxpayers in the form a new online summary of the tax changes, courtesy of the N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants.

The summary, in an easy-to-follow chart format, lays out all the changes. A couple have already come to the notice of Observer readers, who wrote me after my broader story about the tax changes was published last Sunday. Several seniors wanted to know why under some scenarios retirees were seeing tax hikes. No changes were made to the way Social Security is taxed, but you'll note from the chart that a deduction for the first $2,000 of private retirement income such as IRAs or 401ks is going away. Also noticed by readers: no more deducting medical expenses -- something that could have an impact on seniors living in nursing facilities who receive thousands of dollars worth of medical care annually. And of particular interest to small business owners, the deduction for the first $50,000 of net business income -- $100,000 for couples filing jointly -- also goes away.

I suspect there are many more taxpayers who will get lowered bills than those who will see increases. Still, there's lots to think about with the new tax law. Bonus note: the chart also very handily lets you know when the various changes actually take effect.

Monday, August 12, 2013

SouthPark office building sells for nearly $12 million

A 58,445-square-foot office building near SouthPark Mall has sold for $11.89 million, officials said Monday. The building, at 4500 Cameron Valley Parkway, was bought July 31 by principals of the Keith Corp., the Charlotte real estate development firm. The building, which is fully leased, sits on the other side of Fairview Road from Phillips Place, and includes tenants such as Grubb Properties, Merrill Lynch and Yadkin Valley Bank and Trust Co.

Rob Cochran, head of commercial real estate services firm Cassidy Turley's Carolinas Capital Markets Group, joined colleagues David Finger, Addison Montague and Jared Londry in representing the sellers -- three companies controlled by local investors. He said the four-story building's sale price exceeded his firm's expectations. He attributed that to the building's prime location, quality construction and strong tenant roster. "We had a lot of investors that were looking at this opportunity and we got a lot of offers on the property," he said. "It was no surprise that there was significant investor demand."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Firm pays $94,000 in taxes -- to the wrong county

If Mecklenburg County officials are correct, the Celgard battery-making firm paid more than $94,000 in 2011 property taxes to the wrong county. Mecklenburg property tax records show the firm paid $94,643.89 on property with a tax value of $75,354,489. However, records show an adjustment on June 26 in which the $75 million value was canceled and the $94,643 refunded. Asked why, Mecklenburg Assistant County Manager Dena Diorio said Celgard had paid taxes to Mecklenburg for property that was actually in Cabarrus County.

Celgard has a Charlotte plant located just off South Tryon Street in the southwestern part of Mecklenburg County. Celgard, a subsidiary of Charlotte-based high-tech manufacturer Polypore, also opened a150,000-square-foot plant in Concord in July 2011. Officials with Celgard didn't immediately respond to requests for clarification about the tax situation.

Celgard makes advanced membranes used in batteries, electric cars and laptops. The corporation has been highlighted by President Barack Obama as a successful clean-energy company; he visited Celgard's Charlotte plant in 2010. The company cut 40 positions last December after demand for electric vehicles lagged expectations.

UPDATE: Kasia Thompson, a spokeswoman for Cabarrus County, said Celgard is appealing its Cabarrus tax assessment. The company originally reported it had invested about $63 million in its Cabarrus property, but is now saying less than $30 million of the reported property is actually located in Cabarrus.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

PNC survey: 20-somethings feeling stymied by sluggish economic recovery

A new study out from PNC Bank suggests adults in their 20s are feeling less financially independent than they did two years ago. The national study of more than 3,000 people ages 20-29 found that millennials with at least some college education who describe themselves as "totally independent" dropped 26 percent this year compared with research from 2011.

More than half felt they were behind where they expected to be financially at this point in their lives. "It has been a very slow (economic) recovery ... painfully slow for this age group," said Mekael Teshome, an economist with PNC who worked on the study. They tend to have fewer skills and so it's harder for them to compete in the rough economy.

Even so, they remain an optimistic group. Sixty percent of those who didn't identify themselves as "totally independent" said they were determined to get there soon. One telling point: those with a college degree tended not only to be more optimistic psychologically, but were generally more likely to be financially independent. "Higher education matters," Teshome said.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Durham firm buys two SouthPark office buildings

The ownership of two SouthPark-area office buildings has changed hands, officials announced Monday.
The Durham-based Dilweg Companies real estate firm has bought One SouthPark Center, located at 6060 Piedmont Row Drive South, and Two SouthPark Center, 6135 Park Drive South, from an affiliate of Trammell Crow.

Officials with Dilweg said Fluor Enterprises occupies about half of One SouthPark Center, a 10-story building. Quicken Loans Mortgage is the largest tenant in the five-story Two SouthPark Center.
Dilweg said in a news release that the purchase marks its return to the Charlotte market. The firm previously owned the Carnegie Building in SouthPark and currently owns the Park Abbey Building on Park Road.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Foreclosure starts rise in February but remain down from a year ago

Foreclosure rates across the country and in the Carolinas ticked up in February compared to January, but were down compared to the same time last year, according to the latest report by RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure filings were reported on nearly 154,300 U.S. properties last month, up 2 percent from January but down 25 percent from February.

In North Carolina, foreclosure proceedings were started on 2,557 homes in February, a 4.3 percent increase from January and a nearly 15 percent decrease from February 2012.

In South Carolina, foreclosure proceedings were begun on 2,867 homes, a 15 percent increase from January and a 34 percent decrease from the same time a year earlier.

RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said in a statement that while the once-high pace of foreclosures "has been effectively contained and should be reduced to a slow burn in the next two years," that "dangerous foreclosure flare-ups are still popping up" in states where legislation or the courts delayed the foreclosure process.

Such states include Washington, which has seen seven months of rising foreclosure activity, and Maryland, which has seen eight months of rising foreclosure filings, Blomquist said. Florida posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the sixth consecutive month in February, RealtyTrac data shows.

North Carolina ranks 32nd in terms of foreclosure filings, according to RealtyTrac. South Carolina ranks 11th.

Read the full report here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rose & Associates hires as it expands focus to small businesses

Commercial real estate and economic development advisory firm Rose & Associates has hired two employees as it expands its focus to include small business and entrepreneurship.  

The firm has hired Robert Aldrich as a project consultant assisting with small business and entrepreneurship. 

He is the former Director of Finance and Operations for Ventureprise, Inc. (formerly The Ben Craig Center), a nonprofit business incubator affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he managed financial reporting, client and vendor relationships, the Student Incubator and the Accounting Advisory Services program. Prior to his eight-year tenure at Ventureprise, Aldrich was Senior Regional Accountant for InterNET Services Corporation. He is the owner of Aldrich CFO Services, an accounting firm specializing in small business. Aldrich holds degrees from Appalachian State University and Queens University and is Past President of the North Carolina Business Incubator Association.

Kathleen Yager joined the firm to assist with property and asset management as well as real estate market analysis. A certified general appraiser in North Carolina, Yager’s background includes work in senior housing/long term care valuation, multi-tenant office, retail and residential cash flow analysis and subdivision/condominium feasibility studies. Yager is a graduate of Wilmington College in Ohio.

Last month, the Davidson-based firm hired Budd Berro,  former director of the Piedmont Regional Office of the Governor of North Carolina, to serve as senior finance and public policy consultant.

In a statement, the company said it is expanding its economic development and real estate advisory services focused on small business and entrepreneurship.

"Not all small business is the same," says Kathleen Rose, the firm’s President and CEO. "We understand the nuances between Main Street retail, local services, tourism, emerging cottage industries and innovation. Each has different dynamics and needs. These start-up and first stage companies are what will drive most communities’ job growth going forward. That is what economic sustainability is all about and what our team will help deliver."

With 20 years of experience, Rose and Associates has advised real estate development companies, private equity firms and municipalities. 

Read more here:

NAI Southern Real Estate brokers recognized

Charlotte's NAI Southern Real Estate brokerage team enjoyed recognition at the recent Deal Makers Awards Program sponsored by the Charlotte Commercial Board of Realtors.

The program recognizes the region's top commercial real estate producers each year.

The 130 applicants completed more than 3,750 transactions, which is an 18 percent increase over 2011, according to the group's president, A. Scott Hensley. The deals combined totaled more than $1.8 billion.

"These are phenomenal numbers and is a testament the Charlotte commercial real estate market is well on its way back to business," Hensley said.

The NAI Southern Real Estate brokers honored include: Billy Cooper, David Goode, and Mike Wiles, who were recognized for production volume between $10 million and $14.9 million.

Cooper was recognized as the 2nd leading retail broker based on volume for the local market.

Mac Barksdale, Rob Settle, David Simpson, Vince Sumner, and Jay Vaughn were recognized for production volume between $2 million and $9.9 million.

Old HIckory Business Park adds tenants

Old Hickory Business Park in Indian Trail has landed a new tenant, and an existing one is expanding.

Industrial Alloys, Inc. has purchased approximately 7.27 acres of land located within the park and plans to 

build a 40,000 square-foot facility with room for future expansion.  Industrial Alloys is relocating from 
their current location in Old Hickory where they have outgrown their facility. The new building will 
let them add equipment and personnel.

Established in 1983, Industrial Alloys is a distributor and processor of carbon steel, aluminum, stainless 
steel and nickel alloy mill products.

CrossFit Indian Trail has signed a least for 13,900 square feet at 2021-B Van Buren Ave. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program.

Old Hickory is a 225-acre master planned business park for small- to medium-sized companies looking for ready-to-build sites.

Ken Chapman of  Merrifield Patrick Vermillion represented the developer and owner, NJV Investments, LLC, which is an affiliate of Merrifield Patrick Vermillion, LLC.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Charlotte's Hendrick Construction wins safety award

Hendrick Construction, Inc. has received the 2012 National Safety Excellence Award for its commitment to workplace safety.

The award was given by the Association of Builders and Contractors, a trade group. Charlotte-based Hendrick was one of 35 group members nationwide out of nearly 22,000 to receive the award.

“ABC is proud to honor Hendrick Construction with a National Safety Excellence Award for demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to safety and outstanding safety performance,” said Michael Bellaman, ABC president and CEO. “Hendrick Construction has truly shown a dedication to becoming one of the leaders for the industry by striving to create the safest work environment possible for its employees.”

In a statement, Hendrick Construction president Roger Hendrick said: “A safe work environment is always our top priority. ABC brings the industry together each year to recognize and honor great safety records. Our employees work diligently to create safe job sites and we are pleased to see their commitment recognized.”

This is the third time in its decade-long existence that Hendrick Construction has been honored with a National Safety Excellence Award from the ABC. Hendrick was also honored in 2011 and 2008.

Hendrick Construction provides commercial construction services throughout the Southeast. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Charlotte home sales surge 27 percent in February

Charlotte area home sales rose 26.6 percent in February compared to last year, the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association reported Friday. This follows a 40 percent annual surge in sales seen in January.

Slightly more than 2,000 Charlotte homes sold in February, compared with 1,614 homes sold in February 2012. 

Both the average and median sales prices posted increases. The average sales price in February was $194,900, up 5.5 percent compared to February 2012's average price of $184,766. The median price, $150,923, was up 3.8 percent over a year earlier.

Average listing prices are also on the rise - increasing 8.1 percent to $267,708. 

Sellers also got more of what they asked for than sellers in February 2012. Buyers paid 92.6 percent of the list price, compared to 90.7 percent. 

New listings rose 4.7 percent to 4,207.  Overall inventory of available homes, however, continued to fall. The amount of available homes for sale dropped nearly 29 percent leaving the region with a five-months supply of homes for sale.  Agents consider a six-month supply of available homes as a healthy balance.

"With new listings up nearly 5 percent we’re hopeful that this is an early sign of seller confidence being restored throughout the region," association president Eric Locher said in a statement. "Sellers should still be mindful that homes need to be priced right for the current market.  Buyers need to understand that we’re edging closer to a seller’s market and in some situations, we’re seeing more multiple offers and sales price exceeding list price.”

The average number of days a property was on the market from the time it was listed until it closed was 147 days, which is a decrease of 12 days compared to February 2012.  

Foreclosures and short sales also continued to fall.  Distressed properties accounted for 10.2 percent of new listings compared with 13.8 percent last February.  

Distressed homes accounted for nearly 16 percent of homes sold in February,  down from 18.7 percent in February 2012. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wells Fargo economists optimistic about U.S. housing market

New U.S. home sales surged 15.7 percent in January from December, suggesting that the housing recovery remained intact throughout the year-end budget battles and lead-up to the budget sequester, according to the latest housing report from Wells Fargo & Co. economists.

Sales of existing homes also increased modestly in January compared to December, and even though housing starts fell slightly, the pace of new construction remains well ahead of last year’s total build, the authors wrote in their report released Thursday. 

Another promising sign: Single-family starts increased in January and are now at their highest level since July 2008.

Saying they "remain optimistic about the housing market's prospects for 2013," the economists forecast a 30 percent increase in single-family starts and a 29 percent rise in multifamily units.

The caveat in the latest data, the authors say, comes from the Wells Fargo/NAHB Home Builders’ Survey, which appears to have hit a wall in recent months, just below the key 50 break-even level. A reading below 50 means more builders rate the current sales environment as poor than view it as good. 

"The survey has a long history, and the recent stall may be a hint that something is amiss in the housing recovery story," the report says.

The report address frustration that some builders may feel. The authors say many smaller builders are having trouble securing developed lots. New residential development financing is still difficult to come by across much of the country. Not only are lots more expensive, but construction materials prices have also increased. Moreover, builders in many markets report they are having increasing difficulty finding and retaining skilled workers. All of this has happened with overall construction running at a pace that is still less than two-thirds of its long-run average.

One peculiar aspect of this housing recovery, the economists noted, has been the unusually large role cash purchases have played in driving sales and prices higher. Cash purchases accounted for 36 percent of all existing home sales in 2012, which is roughly twice the historic average, they said. The rise in cash purchases is being led by investors purchasing properties to rent.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Charlotte is a hot market for bank-owned homes

Charlotte is among the top places to buy a bank-owned homes, according to the latest research by analytics firm RealtyTrac.

The firm studied more than 900 metropolitan areas to find the top markets for buying bank-owned homes and short sales this year, according to its foreclosure and short sales report released Wednesday.

Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston-Salem made the list of best areas for bank-owned homes.
California cities dominated the best short sale buying list.

In Charlotte, sales of bank-owned real estate rose 109 percent in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier. Such homes sold for an average $111,260, a 43 percent discount off nondistressed sales, and took 144 days on average to sell.

Bank-owned homes in Greensboro sold for an average $85,333, or a 40 percent discount, while homes in Winston-Salem sold for an average $72,356, or a 49 percent discount.

“Short sales are on the rise as a better alternative to foreclosure in many areas — good news for buyers and investors in markets where short sales are closing more quickly at solid discounts,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “But buying from the bank may still be a better option in other markets because of increasing REO inventory, deeper discounts and shorter times to close.”

See the best markets for buying short sales here.

See the best markets for buying bank-owned real estate here.

Read the full report here.

Wells Fargo economists see "sustained recovery" in commercial real estate

The economic gurus at Wells Fargo & Co. have released their latest outlook for U.S. commercial real estate - and they are seeing promising trends.

As the authors write in their latest commentary: "The case for stronger economic growth has become more compelling."

They say years of easy monetary policy have helped revive the housing market, stabilize commercial real estate values and triggered an increase in merger and acquisition activity. Consumer spending has stood its ground. China's economy is ramping back up and Eurozone economies are expected to stabilize and produce less drag on U.S. growth, they write.

They say the steadily improving fundamentals, combined with low interest rates, are paving the way toward a "sustained recovery" in U.S. commercial real estate.

The apartment market has been booming for a few years now, nationally and in Charlotte. This strong recovery should gradually spill over into other areas, the commentary says.

They also predict that gains in single-family construction will boost prospects for the industrial market, as demand from subcontractors and building materials suppliers revives. Demand for office and retail space will improve less dramatically overall but a handful of markets should see much stronger gains.

The report also says that, according to Real Capital Analytics, troubled properties outstanding declined 15.8 percent in the past year. The pace at which properties fall into distress also has slowed.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Charlotte capital firm partners with Oakwood Homes

Charlotte-based Mountain Real Estate Capital has entered into a strategic partnership with Oakwood Homes, Colorado’s largest privately held homebuilder. 

Mountain Real Estate Capital will provide more than $100 million in equity capital to accelerate Oakwood Homes' growth and expansion into new markets, the companies said Tuesday. Oakwood Homes is expanding within Colorado and other regions, including Omaha.

“Oakwood has clearly developed a competitive edge in their marketplace and continued to reinvent themselves with superior product and market positions during the downturn. Together, we will be positioned to now take advantage of the growing market opportunities throughout the Midwest and Western markets,” said Peter Fioretti, chairman and CEO of Mountain Real Estate Capital.   
The companies have been in active discussion since June 2012, shortly after the two firms jointly acquired Banning Lewis Ranch, a 2,600-acre, 8,500-lot master planned community in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“While capital is essential to homebuilders, success is also based on relationships and industry experience,” said Pat Hamill, Oakwood's founder. “This partnership not only delivers a capital infusion, it sets the stage for us to take advantage of market demand and expansion opportunities with greater flexibility than others in the industry."

Mountain Real Estate Capital is a private capital source for real estate developers and builders.  Based in Charlotte, it has offices in Minneapolis, San Diego, New York, Richmond, Baltimore and Los Angeles.  Since 2010, the company has acquired more than 31,000 lots or homes and another 12,000 developable acres. With roughly $500 million of equity investment involved in deals, the firm is involved in projects in 15 states. 

U.S. home prices jump nearly 10 percent in January

U.S. home prices rose 9.7 percent in January compared to the same time last year, the biggest increase since April 2006, according to the latest report by CoreLogic, a real estate analytics firm.

The change marks the 11th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally.

On a monthly basis, U.S. home prices rose by 0.7 percent in January compared to December.

CoreLogic's Home Price Index shows all but two states, Delaware and Illinois, are experiencing year-over-year price gains.

Home prices in South Carolina rose 7 percent in January compared to the previous year. North Carolina home prices, meanwhile, rose a more modest 3.1 percent during the same time.

The figures include distressed sales, such as foreclosures.

Excluding distressed sales, U.S. home prices increased on a year-over-year basis by 9.0 percent in January compared to a year earlier.

CoreLogic expects to see February home prices rise by 9.7 percent from a year ago and fall by 0.3 percent on a monthly basis from January, reflecting a seasonal winter slowdown.

“The (index) showed strong growth during the typically slow winter season,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “With these gains, the housing market is poised to enter the spring selling season on sound footing.”

Other highlights from the report:

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Arizona (+20.1 percent), Nevada (+17.4 percent), Idaho (+14.9 percent), California (+14.1 percent) and Hawaii (+14.0 percent).

• Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national home price index (from April 2006 to January 2013) was -26.4 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the index for the same period was -19.9 percent.

•The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-51.6 percent), Florida (-43.0 percent), Arizona (-38.9 percent), Michigan (-37.4 percent) and Rhode Island (-35.5 percent).

Monday, March 4, 2013

Thomas Sittema named to Crescent Resources' board

Thomas Sittema, chief executive officer of CNL Financial Group, has joined Crescent Resources' board.

CNL Financial Group is a private investment firm that provides global real estate and alternative investments.

Sittema, who joined CNL in 2009 and assumed the CEO position in January of 2011, leads a team that advises four real estate funds and a business development company.  Since its inception in 1973, CNL Financial and its affiliates have formed or acquired companies with more than $26 billion in assets.

"Tom brings incredible depth and breadth of real estate investment and capital market experience to our board and will be extremely valuable in helping mold our business strategies,” said Todd Mansfield, Crescent CEO. 

“Success in real estate development today requires a global perspective and innovative ideas, and Tom and our other board members are helping to assure that Crescent remains on the leading edge in all aspects of our business.”

Prior to joining CNL Financial, Sittema was managing director of real estate, gaming and lodging investment banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch serving in numerous capacities, including sector head of REITS and lodging. Sittema led more than $20 billion in merger and acquisition transactions, $5 billion in equity offerings and more than $35 billion in debt transactions.

Sittema’s career has also included real estate financing and management of the Dallas real estate office for Bank of America and its predecessors. 

In 2007, he was named one of the "Seven Investment Bankers Every Director Should Know" by Corporate Board Member Magazine.

Sittema, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Dordt College and MBA in finance from Indiana University, serves as Secretary / Treasurer of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, is an Executive Committee Member of the Public Non-Listed REIT Council of NAREIT, and serves as the Chair of the University of North Carolina Charlotte Center for Real Estate Advisory Board.

“Crescent Resources is in an outstanding position to foster true innovation in real estate development because of its seasoned leadership team, strong capital base, proven business approaches and focus on growing markets,” Sittema said. “I look forward to becoming a board member of such a dynamic organization that has a long heritage of industry leadership and an even brighter future.”

Charlotte-based Crescent Resources develops multifamily, residential and commercial projects.

Founded in 1969, it has 20 master-planned communities and eight multifamily communities with 5,400 units under construction and in predevelopment.  Crescent owns roughly 72,000 acres including 1,400 acres zoned for commercial use.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Homeowners' association gets creative with delinquent dues-payers

One Mint Hill homeowner's association has found a way to get neighbors who owe association dues to pay up without turning to the courts or foreclosures.

Homeowners' associations have found themselves dealing with unprecedented numbers of homeowners either unable or unwilling to pay association dues as the real estate market crashed and recession lingered. 

Many associations typically turn to liens and foreclosures when homeowners fail to pay assessments or dues, a costly and time-consuming process. Last weekend, I wrote about how some boards are trying new tactics, such as turning to rentals or agreeing to short sales.

Homeowner and association board member Shelton Lee contacted me after the story ran to share his board's creative solution to the growing number of homeowners who had stopped paying dues.

Most of these neighbors were current on their mortgage but had failed to pay association dues for various reasons.

Lee said when he joined the board five years ago he quickly realized that liens and foreclosures cost the association and rarely yielded any financial return. It costs the association about $300 per lien and $1,500 to pursue a foreclosure, he said. 

With about 100 homeowners not paying their dues, "the homeowners' association would have gone broke," paying for all the foreclosures, he said.

He said he also didn't want to foreclose on neighbors, saying as a homeowner's association board member, his duty "is to protect dues-paying homeowners and non-dues-paying homeowners" and to help keep neighborhood values healthy.

The board turned to what's known as a dunning collection agency, meaning the agency doesn't buy the past-due accounts. Rather, it writes and calls homeowners asking them to pay past dues and eventually informs them that if they don't get current their credit rating will take a hit.

The collection agency charges $20 per account, which the homeowner pays the association back. 

When a homeowners' association forecloses, homeowners can stop the foreclosure late in the process by offering to pay past dues. The association, meanwhile, suffers cash flow problems and may have to charge extra assessments to cover needed repair or upkeep. 

Lee said the response has been positive and swift. At least 60 of 85 delinquent homeowners in his Versage neighborhood have paid up. Others are approaching board members asking about getting current on their accounts. 

People care about their credit rating because it can affect their ability to get a phone, buy a car and even land a job, Lee said.

The association, meanwhile, is building up its reserves and hasn't had to file one lien or initiate foreclosure proceedings during the past five years, Lee said.

"There is another solution to this problem," said Lee, who has been a carrier with Federal Express for 25 years. "It's been so effective."

Read more here:

Foreclosures up in the Carolinas during 2012

The number of U.S. properties in some stage of foreclosure or bank-owed that were sold last year dropped 6 percent compared to 2011 and fell 11 percent from 2010, according to RealtyTrac.

These nearly 1 million foreclosure-related sales accounted for 21 percent of all U.S. residential sales during the year, down from 23 percent of all sales in 2011 and down from 28 percent of all sales in 2010.

Both North Carolina and South Carolina, meanwhile, saw an increase in foreclosure-related sales. Such sales rose 10.24 percent in North Carolina and accounted for nearly 12 percent of all sales. In South Carolina, they jumped  nearly 12 percent and accounted for 15.54 percent of sales.

Properties not in foreclosure that sold as short sales in 2012 accounted for an estimated 22 percent of all residential sales nationwide — bringing the total share of distressed sales to 43 percent (including both foreclosure-related sales and non-foreclosure short sales).

"Although foreclosure-related sales represent a shrinking share of total sales, primarily because of fewer bank-owned purchases, distressed sales are still a disproportionately high portion of the overall housing market,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “And while distressed properties — whether bank-owned, pre-foreclosure or short sales not in foreclosure — are still selling at a significant discount compared to non-distressed properties, average distressed property prices are increasing in many markets thanks to strong demand and limited inventory.” 

Short sales (where the sales price was below the estimated amount of all outstanding loans for a given property) of properties not in foreclosure accounted for an estimated 22 percent of all U.S. residential sales in 2012 and increased 4 percent from 2011.

Short sales are becoming more common in North Carolina and Charlotte. 

North Carolina was among the states with the biggest increase in non-foreclosure short sales and saw a 24 percent increase last year.

Local real estate agents have attributed the increase in part to increased familiarity among sellers and buyers and a more streamlined process. Tax credits that expired last year also boosted interest.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Unlocking the strategy behind real estate listings

The most expensive U.S. homes listed for sale often include the term "parlor floors" in their description.

The phrase "cute little bungalow" typically refers to cheaper homes that may need repair.

And homeowners in San Francisco like to advertise that their property is near a Whole Foods Market. 

The researchers at online real estate analytics firm Trulia gave a briefing to reporters Wednesday to introduce what the company calls its Real Estate Lab.  

The lab is geared toward better understanding the psychology and strategy used by consumers and real estate professionals in the residential real estate market.  

Among the fun facts researchers shared Wednesday: Phrases associated with the most and least expensive homes for sale nationwide, as well as some highly regionalized real estate terms.

For example, luxury home sellers often market their homes as a “magnificent estate” or “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to draw in prospective buyers. Homes described with these phrases are typically listed for more than $3 million. 

Other phrases associated with multimillion dollar listings include luxury home features and brands such as a “paneled library” or “Lutron lighting.” The phrase associated with the most expensive listings is “parlor floor,” which is the main and grandest floor of Manhattan townhouses and other big city mansions. On average, homes calling out this feature are priced at nearly $5 million.

Homes described as “cute little bungalows” are priced on average at $62,000. These cheaper homes for sale might have additional costs in the form of stripping toxic paint, removing mold, or extensive plumbing repairs, Trulia found.

The phrases associated with the least expensive listings are often required disclosures such as “mold-like substance” or “lead based paint notices.” Additionally, the agents and brokers listing these very-affordable homes will usually mention a “minimum commission” because the standard percentage commission is too low on these homes, which are typically priced at less than $28,000.

Home sellers also use regional terms or highlight local must-have features to describe their home and neighborhood, and it’s a strong signal of what buyers want, said Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko.

The popular Whole Foods is 10 times more likely to appear in listings in the San Francisco metro area than nationally. In Fairfield County, Conn., buyers want walls made from local stone. Sellers in West Palm Beach tout Roman tubs and home buyers in Grand Rapid, Mich., covet pole barns, to store farm equipment and other items.

Trulia didn't immediately have the hot features for Charlotte or the Carolinas. But if they get back to me with what they are, I'll post them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Engineering/consulting firm expands into Charlotte

Bohler Engineering is opening an office in Charlotte as part of the company's expansion into the southeast. 

The civil and engineering consulting firm said it is expanding at the request of its clients.

“What makes Bohler different are the genuine relationships we have with our clients,” said Adam Volanth, principal for the firm's mid-atlantic region. “We will do whatever it takes to prove to our clients that they truly 
are our number one priority; including opening a new office."

The office, the firm's 14th office on the east coast, will be on West Hill Street near Bank of America Stadium.

Andrew Moriarty will head up the Carolinas office, Moriarty is the former engineering director for the 

Timmons Group in North Carolina. 

 “I am excited for Bohler’s arrival in the Carolinas,” he said, “the depth of our firm’s experience and resources will make an enormous impact on the development community.” 

Monday, February 25, 2013

New online resource available for those in short-term rental industry

Four U.S. online companies serving the short-term rental market have joined to launch the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center, an online resources for homeowners, property managers, residents, travelers and policymakers wanting to learn about the best practices in regulating the short-term rental marketplace.

Short-term rentals are a growing trend in the housing market. While residential real estate how been on the rebound lately, sales prices remain below recent peaks. Some investors and homeowners have property they   are holding onto because they don't want to sell for a loss. 

Some investors are buying homes to rent out. 

Even homeowners' associations and condominium owners' associations are turning to short-term rentals when they have property they have foreclosed on because the previous homeowner stopped paying dues, a trend I wrote about recently. 

Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and FlipKey formed the advocacy group, it says, after requests from users and local policymakers across the country.

“Short-term rentals are bringing tangible benefits to homeowners, residents, travelers, businesses and local communities across the country,” said the group's spokesman Tim Doyle. “As short-term rentals grow in popularity, some communities are asking questions about how to regulate the industry. As leaders in the short-term rental marketplace, we want to make sure all stakeholders, but most importantly our customers, have a reliable source of information to contribute to this important discussion.”

There isn't a chapter in Charlotte, yet. The closest chapter is in Myrtle Beach, according to the group's website.

To learn more go to

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Charlotte leaders honored for creative thinking in real estate

Nearly 200 commercial real estate professionals gathered at Carmel Country Club Wednesday to honor colleagues for their creative thinking in solving real estate-related problems.

The awards, the 5th annual, was presented by the Carolinas chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate, an invitation-only professional group.

Jerry Orr, aviation director of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, was among those recognized. 
Real estate professionals largely praise Orr and his managing of the airport, saying it is one of the region's best tools for attracting new companies. 

A Senate panel Wednesday endorsed a bill that would create a new Charlotte airport authority by transferring control from the city of Charlotte.
The bill also must pass the full House. City leaders are expected to keep pushing for at least a delay in its passage.

Orr kept his remarks brief, offering plain-spoken advice.

Included among his comments: Be complimentary, get ahead of the competition, and "a good idea well implemented is far more productive than a great idea not implemented."

While award recipients were involved in local projects, they were chosen because of the broader impact they had on the community, moderator Kathleen Rose said. 

Ronald Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University, was recognized for his work to develop Mosaic Village, a mixed-use project on West Trade Street that includes student rooms, parking, retail space and a terrace. Event organizers said the project will help connect the campus and neighborhood with uptown Charlotte, which while close geographically, has long been divided socially and economically from the center city. 

Ruth Shaw, Michael Marsicano and Davis Cable were honored for their work developing The Carolina Thread Trail, a regional network of greenways and trails that reaches 15 counties and 2.3 million people. 

Shaw told the crowd she thought the idea was "absolutely bodacious" when she first heard it because it would involve getting so many different people to work together. 

Organizers recently celebrated the completion of the 100th mile of the planned 1,500 network.

Read more here:

Read more here: