Thursday, May 22, 2014

What's the No. 1 day for pedestrian traffic at Trade and Tryon?

As this new graphic below from Charlotte Center City Partners shows, last year it was the Friday of the Food Lion Speed Street festival along Tryon Street. More than 91,000 people walked across Trade and Tryon streets that day, far above the 2013 daily average of 22,300 walkers. The uptown festival kicks off each year in conjunction with the weekend's Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race. (This year, it's the Coca-Cola Speed Street). Other interesting findings in the graphic: Fridays are generally the Square's most heavily walked days, and lunchtime, not surprisingly, is when traffic spikes each day.

Monday, May 19, 2014

New office, retail complex planned along South Boulevard

When you think about the development boom in the South End these days, the first thing you typically think of are the apartment complexes sprouting like mushrooms along the South Boulevard corridor. But commercial real estate firm CBRE and development firm Pappas Properties are hoping to add a substantial new office park to the mix. CBRE has just begun marketing a new mixed-use development planned for South Boulevard, near the Scaleybark light rail stop, according to Anne Vulcano, a senior vice president at the firm.

Billed in marketing materials as "Charlotte's next great TOD (transit-oriented development)," it would bring more than 487,000 square feet of office space spread across three six-story buildings located at South Boulevard, near Scaleybark Road. It would also include an unspecified amount of retail. CBRE is marketing the office space, while Pappas is handling the retail. "This is a fantastic location for the new 'urban' office tenant," Vulcano told me in an email. "Hop the light rail to amenities and the CBD (central business district). Drive to SouthPark if that is your flavor. The best of both worlds."

Friday, May 16, 2014

New restaurant, street-level retail coming to the Square?

A redesign is in the works for the base of  the  Bank of America Plaza tower, which sits at Trade and Tryon streets. Charlotte architectural firm Redline Design Group is seeking city approval for a redesign of the 40-story tower's base to bring in a restaurant and retail tenants. According to city records, the scope of work includes a possible new facade to the building's base, a new lobby, as well as new restaurant and retail entries and seating areas.

Photo courtesy of Trinity Partners
It also involves a redesign of the plaza, which includes city-owned property and the large, coin-shaped bronze sculpture "II Grande Disco" by Arnaldo Pomodoro. The existing fountain in the plaza could be converted to restaurant space. A project description on file with the city also suggests questions about cafe/sidewalk seating and valet parking will need to be addressed by the city's transportation department.

The tower, built in 1974 and renovated in 1992, already offers access to the Overstreet Mall and 20 on-site shops and restaurants. Charlotte Center City Partners and other groups have been calling in recent years for more street-level retail and restaurants in uptown Charlotte.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

More urban apartments breaking ground beside Veterans Park

I'm starting to feel a bit like a broken record with the flood of new apartment communities cranking up these days, but here comes another one. Northwood Ravin LLC, which oversees the VUE and Catalyst apartment towers uptown, has broken ground for a $50 million, 403-unit project that will overlook Veterans Park, in the Commonwealth neighborhood. This one comes with a bit of a twist from the many other urban multifamily complexes going up. It's designed to be less dense, with 384 flats spread across a variety of two-, three- and four-story buildings. The 21-acre project will also include 17 two- and three-bedroom townhouse apartments and two for-sale single-family homes.

Morningside Village, as it's being called, will sit about a four-block walk along McClintock Road from the Harris Teeter at The Plaza and Central Avenue. It will include more green space than typical infill projects, the developers say. It will have inner courtyards, private gardens, dog parks, and even garden plots for residents. In a press release, David Ravin, president of Northwood Ravin, called the project "part of the next generation of apartment homes that will bring all the modern amenities in a convenient, urban location but will provide more living space within each apartment and the community as a whole."

The first of the apartments are expected to be completed in early spring of 2015.

Plaza-Midwood's Vyne apartments finishes second phase

Vyne on Central, a residential project that began as condos but got whacked by the housing meltdown, completes its resurrection as an apartment community this weekend. The community, located at 3220 Central Avenue, will celebrate the completion of its second phase Saturday with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Developers unveiled plans for the project in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood just before the recession hit. They'd conceived it as an environmentally conscious 33-unit condo project. By 2009, with the housing market decimated, its backers resorted to offering potential buyers a free overnight stay in hopes of convincing them to sign contracts. Development group 759 Ventures, which also owns Edgeline Flats in NoDa, acquired the project and converted it to rentals last year. The new phase includes 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments.  The developers say the new phase, with rents starting at just over $1,000, is one-third pre-leased.

Chris Needham, the local principal of 759 Ventures, said the group is pleased with how the project turned out, and added: "The success of the leasing shows people love living near the fun environment of Plaza-Midwood."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Is Charlotte gobbling too much of N.C.'s job-recruitment pie?

A new report out today from the N.C. Justice Center, a progressive public policy think tank in Raleigh, is raising questions about whether bigger cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville are gobbling up a disproportionately large percentage of the state's job-recruitment incentives since 2007.

Of the $840 million in incentives given out since then to recruit or grow industry, the majority went to the more urban and prosperous areas of the state, the study showed. Mecklenburg got 55 job development projects during that time and pulled in more than $303 million in incentives -- or more than a third of the state's total incentives for the period. That money came with promises that companies would create or retain more than 24,000 jobs in the Charlotte area. By contrast, rural Sampson County, located just east of Interstate 95, received merely $238,000 for two projects. Those projects promised to create or retain 187 jobs.

The state has been trying to do more to boost job growth in economically hard-hit rural areas. But as urban areas keep sprinting ahead, the challenge seems to loom increasingly large.

"North Carolina needs to spend less money on incentives in the most prosperous metros in the state, and start investing more in the roads, schools and job training programs most likely to create jobs and improve economic conditions in the state's most distressed and rural communities," said Allan Freyer, the report's author.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Charlotte makes top ten among best cities to start a career

Charlotte has landed at No. 9 on a new list of best cities to start a career in. Wallethub, a personal finance social network, released the list today. Wallethub analyzed 150 cities to come up with the list, studying everything from entry-level pay and job opportunities to "mating opportunities" -- i.e., the share of the population that has never been married. Charlotte ranked No. 7 in quality-of-life factors, No. 63 in professional opportunity factors, and came in at No. 9 overall, just below Dallas and above Houston.

Here's the top 10:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Denver, CO.
  3. Irving, TX.
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Minneapolis, MN
  6. San Francisco, CA
  7. Austin, TX
  8. Dallas, TX
  9. Charlotte, NC
  10. Houston, TX
Let's hear what you think. Is Charlotte one of the top cities to start a career in, based on your experience?