Monday, September 13, 2010

Urban Market!

Can't say this is a surprise!

Press release:
Charlotte Center City Partners is exploring the creation of a new public market in Uptown to be located in the former Reid’s Fine Foods space on the ground floor of the Seventh Street Station parking deck. Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) has offered to invest in this new market because of the project’s potential benefits for the citizens of our region.

The proposed ‘City Market’, situated adjacent to the 7th Street light rail station, would feature high quality, unique products sold at reasonable prices. Produce and products from local farmers and vendors would support public health by providing year-round access to fresh foods. The vendor mix is proposed to be multicultural and represent Charlotte’s global melting pot as well as its Southern heritage. The market would include a cafĂ© and provide programming opportunities for the community to learn about healthy eating in a warm and inviting setting, surrounded by fresh foods.

“Our goal will be to provide a wide variety of produce, meat, fish, bakery and dairy products, and other raw and prepared food, brought to market in the center of the city by farmers, growers, producers and chefs,” said Michael Smith, President and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners. “We want to create an environment that recognizes and celebrates the diversity of our citizens and fosters their interaction. We also want to strengthen the historic link and mutual dependency of our rural and urban communities.”

The market will take advantage of its Uptown location and the City’s unique assets including the light rail line, the new UNC Charlotte building and First Ward Park across the street as well as Johnson & Wales University.

Another objective will be to provide an incubator for small businesses, supported by the workforce development programs at CPCC. In time, this market will become a ‘must see’ destination and provide an authentic Charlotte experience for visitors. The hope is to achieve all this and, at the same time, make sure the market is operationally self-funded.

As founding sponsor, CHS would provide health and wellness programming for the market. “We want to invest in the City Market because it supports our mission of ‘Live Well Carolinas’ and our goal of prevention and wellness in the Charlotte community,” said CEO Michael Tarwater.

This concept is the result of years of research and exploration through a partnership with the City, County and Projects for Public Spaces (PPS). In a recently completed feasibility study report, PPS surveyed local market vendors and found a high-capacity, skilled set of vendors who know and understand retail marketing. The survey found that 75% of vendors have a strong interest in participating in a year-round indoor market and that 75% employ 0-3 full-time employees and more than 60% of vendors would be ready to sell in less than three months.

The City Market is proposed to be a stand-alone 501(c) 3 organization employing a Market Manager and Assistant Manager as well as custodial staff. The projected opening is Spring of 2011.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reid's Nearing A Retail Location Decision

Just got this on 9/9/2010:

Be on the look out for an announcement within the next
2 WEEKS regarding
information about our future retail location.

We should know something by the end of the month!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Conflicting Housing Price News

Funny thing about housing news, it changes radically from month to month. One month you hear that the average price has dropped X%, the next month, it is up Y%. Then you hear that new home sales have dropped dramatically.
What to believe?
Let’s look at some of the statistics behind the numbers. When congress enacted the First Time Home Buyers Tax credit, it created a market of guess what, First Time Homebuyers! These people were looking for inexpensive, affordable homes that would fit into their budget. These homes generally were at the entry level of housing prices, so the average price of a home was driven down. This does not mean that other houses were not selling, but that the unit sales were skewed by the tax credit.
When the credit ended, and the unit sales in that entry level price range fell back, the average price of a home went up.
As to new home sales dropping, well, building permits for the past 24 months have fallen significantly, and banks have been more reluctant to extend loans to builders, so with fewer homes being built, it stands to reason that fewer are being sold. This does not address demand, but supply.
My point here is that if we respond to information without a frame of reference to it, we become part of the panic that just feeds the problem. We are in difficult times, but not impossible times. The demand for housing still exists, though slower than several years ago. Sellers are taking a more realistic view of the value of their property and prices are not as speculative.
Companies continue to move to Charlotte and the long term future looks good here. There will be bumps along the way, but don’t succumb to panic.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Saga Of The VUE Continues

It was early in March of 2005 when Doug Smith broke the story of The VUE Charlotte, and the enormous size of the project. Wow! 50 stories, spires on top, biometric sensors to read your thumb print instead of using fobs, glass walls with incredible views of a rapidly growing city with construction cranes everywhere.
At the time of the announcement, the market was riding pretty high and continued through 2007.

Irrational Exuberance? Those were heady times, and no one was crying out to reign in the economy. The fall of the economy has been well documented everywhere else, so I won’t go there.
The topic of the day as reported in the Business Journal and the Observer is that some people with contracts on The VUE are giving consideration from walking away from their down payment as opposed to buying a property that has had an erosion of value since the initial commitment.
Had the economy not dropped the way it did, sales per square foot could be between $400—$450 on average for all downtown. If that were the case, the building itself, its location, and the uniqueness of the amenities might be enough to justify some overpaying.
But that is not the case. 2010 to date $ SqFt is near 2004 levels at $220. % of Asking Price is running around 79%.
There is no question that The VUE will be a unique address probably for the next 5 to 10 years, and that may be enough, but current buyers will need to make some hard decisions, as will the developer. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sellers, Price Your Home With The Market

It is not uncommon for a seller to want to list the asking price of their home somewhat higher figuring that it will give them a little “wiggle room” when a buyer makes an offer. In a seller’s market, that strategy might work but not in todays market.
The Wall Street Journal has published an article describing that in this Internet Marketing era, most buyers will shop what is fresh, and new listings get four (4) times the hits during the first week of the listing than the remainder of the time on market. Even an eventual price drop by a seller only gets a modest increase in activity.
When a buyer sees that a property has been on the market a long time (over 60 days) they assume that it is either priced too high and the seller is not willing to negotiate, or there is a property has some other problem that stands in the way of its sale.
The article draws no direct conclusion, but implies that to price a property that reflects current marketing conditions will lead to a quicker sale. As I tell all my clients, you can turn down an offer you don’t like, but you cannot negotiate on an offer you do not get.

Morgan Stanley News?

Morgan Stanley has hired 100 bankers to offer loans and deposit products to brokerage clients. The unit will be run by former Wachovia Corporation Executive and may quintuple its ranks by the end of 2011. This is a direct attempt to form a "private bank" (as opposed to a retail bank) that is based in Charlotte and New York.
This is a continuing expansion of the financial services sector of our Charlotte economy.