A boomtown that’s built to last, and how we got here

Charlotte North Carolina Boomtown!

Happy Friday, Charlotte.

There used to be a lull, months passing between announcements for a Lincoln Harris office building in SouthPark or a Beacon Partners distribution building in north Charlotte or a Crosland retail center at a new crossroads near the latest golf course community.

Apartments might come in waves, but just as quickly the pipeline would cut off, sometimes for years. Bankers made sure of that. Half a decade would pass between office tower completions — 1 Bank of America Center and Duke Energy Center in 2010 to 300 South Tryon in 2017.

The pace quickened steadily post-Great Recession. Then in a roar over the last several years, as people, jobs and the need for a place to put them all converged in an Econ 101 case study of supply meets demand.

And still I didn’t see this latest wave coming, with tower after tower proposed or starting construction since Jan. 1. There’s also the weekly, million-square-foot distribution park proposed or underway; apartment complexes — urban high rise and suburban stick built; and, finally, the mill makeovers, with adaptive-reuse projects creating new frontiers from empty shells of red brick and wooden planks.

For example:



And then we get to this week, where we start with a little plan I like to call one of the most significant developments in Charlotte commercial real estate history.

CBJ’s development reporter Collin Huguley was at Riverside Investment & Development’s formal unveiling on Wednesday of the three-tower, $750 million Queensbridge Collective development at 1111 S. Tryon St.

It’s the kind of project that, 10 years ago, would have been considered highly speculative. Except Chicago-based Riverside has already closed on the 3-acre site that has been home to Midnight Diner and Uptown Cabaret for years. Riverside paid $35 million for the property and, at its event this week, disclosed plans to open a Charlotte office. Riverside is a serious and significant addition to the local development community.

Queensbridge Collective brings a level of design and planning to a key corner of the city that will do more than bridge the uptown/South End divide. It will remove the notion that there’s much difference. The 42-story office tower follows a wave of office development in South End. It precedes many others to come.

“When we sought the feedback and input of some of our national tenant clients that have a presence in Charlotte, we very quickly came to the conclusion that this site at the nexus of South End growth (and) uptown financial services, legal and other kinds of sophisticated groups of clientele really was the best opportunity that we had seen,” Anthony Scacco, Riverside’s chief operating officer, told CBJ in November.

Riverside has delivered over 4.3 million rentable square feet of office, residential and retail projects in the last five years, with the bulk of its work in the Chicago area.

That’s not the only national developer making a big splash in the region this week. Huguley reported on Monday that California-based Panattoni Development Co. Inc. has targeted a 125.8-acre site on the Gaston County-Cleveland County line for a nearly million-square-foot industrial park. Pinnacle Park would be the latest large industrial development in the Kings Mountain or western Gaston County area.

Kings Mountain, in particular, has several active and notable industrial developments. The Keith Corp. is developing Kings Mountain Corporate Center, a nearly 1.3 million-square-foot industrial building off Canterbury Road. Equus Capital Partners is developing a project, also on Woodlake Parkway, that includes a 300,240-square-foot speculative industrial building.

Panattoni is one of the largest privately held, full-service real estate development companies in the world with 46 offices in the United States, Canada and Europe. Its development portfolio totals more than 544 million square feet, including more than 211 million square feet of build-to-suit projects. The Pinnacle Park project is being managed out of the Irvine, California developer’s Atlanta office.

After breaking the news on Tuesday that Flywheel Group has added to its NoDa holdings, CBJ’s real estate reporter Elise Franco talked with Tony Kuhn, president of the boutique developer, about his plans for the Allison-Erwin Building. Flywheel purchased 2920 N. Tryon St. from Allwin LLC for $10 million.

“I’ve always loved that property,” Kuhn told Franco. “I’ve been talking to Mr. Allison for six or seven years and touring the property for just as long, so I’m super happy it came back around and we’re able to get it closed. It’s got important history, and it’s an interesting section of North Tryon that we think has incredible opportunity.”

The property is one of at least seven included in a redevelopment project that Flywheel is calling Queens Park Commons. The redevelopment will run along North Tryon, from Matheson Avenue to just north of the Allison-Erwin Building. Kuhn said work on the project is tentatively slated to begin in early 2023.

As Huguley reported in a CBJ cover story in January, momentum is building in Chester County with E. & J. Gallo Winery’s East Coast hub in Fort Lawn and Giti Tire’s large plant in Richburg. Here’s how that potential becomes reality: This week, Huguley reported Sumter, South Carolina-based Thompson Turner Construction is partnering with Odell Steele to develop a 105,000-square-foot industrial building there. The building will be the first at Magnolia Industrial Park, a 724-acre site in Richburg. Construction on the first building will begin in late spring or early summer with delivery expected in early 2023. It is one of several major industrial sites in counties along the Interstate 77 corridor between Charlotte and Columbia. Magnolia Industrial Park is about 4 miles from I-77.

The project site is along Highway 9, a corridor ripe for industrial development.

And one more from Huguley from the region: CrossRidge Center, a 190-acre, mixed-use development in Indian Land, is now in play. A 120,000-square-foot speculative office building was unveiled last week. CrossRidge CEO David Cerullo said the next phase of development at CrossRidge Center would begin construction by the end of the year. That phase will feature around 57,000 square feet of retail space.

CrossRidge One joins another office building, a 32,000-square-foot conference and event center, and the 75,000-square-foot Indian Land YMCA that are already complete at the development.

The master plan for CrossRidge Center shows the next several phases will include over 200,000 square feet of retail, a 120-room hotel and outparcels for other development. Several more office buildings are being planned for CrossRidge Center down the road as well. The office footprint at CrossRidge Center could eventually reach 400,000 square feet.

What’s driving all this? Its population growth. Period. North Carolina added nearly 94,000 residents for the period from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021, according to U.S Census Bureau data. That’s the fourth-largest figure in the country. Neighboring South Carolina saw the sixth-largest gain in terms of raw numbers, adding almost 60,000 residents. North Carolina’s growth rate of 0.9% ranked 11th while South Carolina’s rate of 1.2% ranked sixth.

Don’t take my word for it. Take theirs:

  • “The employment and population growth Charlotte continues to experience paired with the site’s proximity to Charlotte’s major entertainment venues drew us to the location. We continue to see high demand for thoughtfully designed communities across the Charlotte MSA, and we’re excited to see the project come to life.” — Tennessee-based J.A. Murphy Group founder John Murphy on the company’s plans for its first apartment project here. J.A. Murphy Group bought a 6.2-acre site on Trevi Village Boulevard near Charlotte Motor Speedway for $3.75 million for a 209-unit project.
  • “We’re seeing the interest with population growth in this area. Institutional investors want to go where the puck is headed, not where it has already been.” — Trinity Capital partner Massie Flippin on booming industrial activity, including the firm’s 120-acre industrial project called Edgewood85 Commerce Park, which will total 1 million square feet of space
  • “We have added 200,000 customers since March of 2020. Four of the states that we operate in are in the top six in the U.S. for population growth.” — Duke Energy Corp. CEO Lynn Good discussing her optimism for growth in the fourth quarter analyst earnings call last month. Those are the Carolinas, Florida and Tennessee.
  • “We continue to see … double-digit increases over the past decade in regards to the number of people that are choosing to relocate, number of companies that are coming into North Carolina.” — Steve Lawler, CEO of the North Carolina Healthcare Association, on the demand driving record hospital development in the Carolinas.
    By  –  Editor, Charlotte Business Journal
    To read the entire article, click on the link below

Tom is a construction estimator with over 35 years of experience in the industry from field work to general contracting.

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