Monday, July 26, 2010

Wine Tasting At The Dunhill

I didn’t think it would take too long to find another spot to keep our weekly Wednesday wine tastings, and a likely candidate has been found.
Following quickly on a story in the Charlotte Observer about the Dunhill Hotel becoming a great “Boutique Hotel”, Craig Spitzer, the General Manager, has agreed to carrying on the tradition started by Reid’s.
This past Wednesday was our first attempt and it appears that not only did we enjoy it, but The Dunhill enjoyed it as well, so for the next several weeks we will continue to meet there.

Ongoing Thoughts about The VUE

As we are now in July, we are probably between 30 and 60 days of the first scheduled closings in
The VUE.
It has been a long road for this project to get to this point. The developer has changed, the sales team has changed several times, there has been a walk off by the general contractor and there have been zoning concerns on several fronts.
This project was borne back in 2005, just as the downtown condo market was entering into its high point. Fifth and Poplar was nearing selling out at a rate of $345—$375 a square foot, and plans for additional developments or actual cranes were to be found everywhere downtown.
Everything seemed to be lining up for The VUE. One of the most unique concept was the inclusion of bio scanners to use fingerprint identification instead of fobs! Those of us who use fobs on a regular basis can attest that a thumb print is a lot cooler, and you always have it with you. The finishes promised to be unsurpassed in the city, and the views were all good, even over the “Green Expanse”, that is Elmwood-Pinewood Cemetery to the rest of us.
The developer insists that there is somewhere around 60% of the units under contract. That would equate to around 240 units. Many of those units sold are tentatively cash sales. It will change the nature of the lower Fourth Ward.
Some owners have expressed concerns that property appraisals may be difficult to justify the sales price. This remains to be seen as no appraisals have taken place.
This will truly be an interesting transition from a large work in progress to an occupied condominium, the tallest in North Carolina.

Positive Signs

As the recession starts to recede (not fast enough!) Charlotte continues to enjoy announcements of companies relocating, or expanding jobs in this market. The exciting thing is that not all of them are in the financial industry.
Last fall we learned of Husqvarna, Seimens, and Ally Bank. This spring we learned about Freightliner, Red Cross, Jo-Mar Spinning, Citco Funds, Morgan Stanley, USBank, Babcocks & Wilcox.
Several contacts I have in City of Charlotte Economic Development have hinted that there are others in the pipeline as we move forward.
Wells Fargo’s community banking president for the eastern region, Laura Schulte, has indicated that the overlap of duplicate jobs is done, and that there are actually people in San Francisco who are eager to move to Charlotte from the West Coast! Who would have thought that!
These are all positive signs that Charlotte will emerge from this recession stronger, as our core businesses are again expanding and we are diversifying our employment base to help avoid future dependence on a single industry.
Additional expansion is taking place with the UNCC Uptown Classroom Building, continued growth of Johnson & Wales University, and discussions about Johnson C. Smith creating a High School on its campus.
All these indicators will bring additional people to this area. These people will need a place to live, and I have already seen buyers are returning to the markets. Property values will begin to rise as the financially challenged properties are removed from the market.
As the supply of available housing decreases, and the demand of people moving to this area increases the only course is for property values to go up

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wow! It is really gone!

A friend of mine pulled me aside in early May and asked me if I had heard anything of Reid's closing their doors. I was shocked, and told him that I had not, but would find out.

I asked Pam Richards if what I heard was true, and she confirmed that it was.

Slowly the word got out, and we began the countdown. It was not initially apparent, but slowly the shelves started thinning out. Then the wine racks became threadbare. People who no one ever saw before began to shop there and commented on how nice it was, and what a shame it was it was closing! Where were they before?

The plan was to close on Saturday, June 26 at 8pm. I planned my day to be on hand for the official locking of the doors. I didn't want to get there too early, so I planned my arrival for around 6:30. I found a hand-written sign on the door that the store was closing at 5!

It's been about 10 days now, and oil is still leaking in the gulf, we're still in Afghanastan, the market is still crazy, and life goes on. I have rediscovered evening aerobic classes, and in general am getting more work done during the day.

There will never be another place quite like Reid's.