Friday, January 6, 2012

Looking Back On 2011

The saying "a glass half empty vs a glass half full" is a good description of what happened in Charlotte during the past year. 

Unemployment remained uncomfortably high, yet there were numerous announcements of companies relocation either headquarters or major divisions to Charlotte.  Bank of America announced the start of the New BAC by indicating that the will shed 30,000 employees over the next three years.  While that sounds like a lot, a large percentage of those employees will leave through attrition.  Many others will post out of jobs being eliminated into newly created jobs in divisions that are growing, half empty or half full?

Duke and Progress Energy will be merging, and the headquarters of this company will be in Charlotte.  Raleigh will feel the largest pain in this merger, but many Progress employees will be relocating to Charlotte.  This will be the biggest part of the emerging energy and energy related companies looking to call Charlotte home.

City building made strides with the beginning of the Romare Bearden Park in the Third Ward, and the soon (?) to begin construction of the First Ward Park near the UNCC Uptown Classroom Building.  Both parks will spur construction activity on ancillary properties.  The key fact is that these parks have passed from proposed to under construction.

Condo development downtown during the year centered around the re-emergence of The Park, now called Skye, and The VUE.  Skye promises to be an interesting building.  Half Hyatt Hotel, and half condo, this development will bring vibrancy to the Second Ward.  I have been in some of the units under construction, and can relate that the views from the west side of this building are incredible, and the pricing is structured to quickly sell.

The VUE remains another issue.  There are reportedly around 200 existing contracts in place for this building.  Many of the contract holders are concerned that the value of the building has fallen below levels that make sense to purchase.  Others have found difficulty in getting appraisals to support the mortgages needed to close their deals.  The developer is entitled to keep deposits, but has been trying to sue to force people to close.

The developer has not been successful in getting the courts to back up his position. 

What is at stake here is getting people into the building.  Many of those units that are under contract are positioned in preferred locations in the building.  The developer has maintained the premium pricing for all the units (with some exceptions) and new contracts are slow come.  Once all the court cases and appeals end I would expect to see significant movement.

7Venth Market changed its name to 7th Street Public Market and opened in early December moving towards a Grand Opening in the April time period.  The Market was obligated to open due to contracts with some growers in the region, so it did.  It is a work in progress.

The Charlotte Knights baseball stadium made several strides, one from the county extending the time to have funding in place and dirt turned for an additional year.  Duke Energy was also linked to the Knights as a potential naming rights participant for the stadium, which should aid in securing construction loans.

It should also be noted that many of the companies looking to relocate here cite the Charlotte Douglas International Airport as a major consideration.  The airport continues to grow with the addition of a new runway and the placement of a multi-modal freight yard being placed between two of the runways. 

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