Sunday, March 25, 2012

We Have Passed The Bottom

Did you time it as well as you timed the stock market?  Didn't think so.

The driving force over the past 4 years has been fear.  The markets were tottering, people were running for cover, the government, being the only adult (?) in the room tried to help us get through, at least help big business get through, and we all lived in fear.  Fear of layoffs, fear of dwindling markets that cut into our compensation packages, fear of the unknown.

As markets began to shrink, the speed of the shrinkage was increased by fear.  As they began to get better, fear again popped up with talks of a double dip.

Things did start to get better, and here in Charlotte, a bit sooner and stronger perhaps than other areas.  Still, fear of buying or selling too soon kept many from doing the right thing for them at that time.  So everyone began to wait for the bottom.

It has passed us by.

The road to recovery is not a steep angle, but it is moving positive.  As a realtor I see it almost every day, more buyers shopping, banks lending, companies hiring.  We have hit bottom and are on our way up.

In the housing market, we find that there are fewer properties in the downtown market available for sale than at any time in the past 10 years.  If you read this blog you know my favorite law is that of Supply and Demand.  According to that law, if your supply is inadequate to meet the demand for it, two things can happen, prices rise and / or supply increases, sometimes both.

For the first time in quite a while, there is talk of interest rate increases.  The accompanying chart illustrates a quarter point rise in rates and what it will do to monthly payments and overall interest payments. 

Rates are rising, prices are beginning to rise, we have been to the bottom and survived.  Now it is a matter of taking advantage of rates and prices before they rise to a stabilizing level.  There are good deals available in this market but they are not as many as there was just 6 months ago.  New property will be added to the market as we progress, but those properties will begin to reflect a stronger market and prices will rise.

In 2000 the average $ per sq ft in downtown Charlotte was $151; In2011 the average $ per sq ft was $214.  At the peak of the market in 2006 the average $ per sq ft was $309.  Several things drove the prices that high.  Courtside, Fifth & Poplar, The Avenue, 230 South Tryon and TradeMark all came on the market in the mid 2000's at the height of the market. 

A pre construction boom price of $272 per sq ft was achieved in 2005, and I believe that will be the stabilizing price.  It may take several years to get to that level but that will be an achievable and sustainable level to reach.

If you are a buyer, consider those variables and make your decision as to when the right time is for you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Request For Help

I received this request the other day and feel it is worth forwarding:

March 20, 2012
Re:  We need your help to Bring the Knights Home

Dear Friends of Baseball:

We need your help. We are at a crossroads for AAA Baseball in our community. I am requesting your active support of our efforts bring the Charlotte Knights to Center City Charlotte. 

The Charlotte Knights are requesting funding support from the City of Charlotte to build a new AAA Ballpark. It will bring affordable family fun to the most convenient location in our region. The new ballpark will provide a facility for youth and amateur sports tournaments that support the hospitality industry.  We also know this AAA Stadium will bring jobs of all types, including youth employment. This public investment will be super catalyst for private investment and redevelopment of 36 acres of vacant land and surface parking lots. This stadium will bring life to Romare Bearden Park and will spur the creation of restaurants and retail as well as a hotel, office and residential development.

Please help us by doing five things:

1.      Write a letter to the editor of the Observer, Creative Loafing or any newspapers you read…here are two options:

Charlotte Observer:     Subject line: Letter to the Editor

Creative Loafing:        Subject line: Letter to the Editor

2.      City Council (email addresses below or write to 600 E. 4th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202) In your note to City Council:

a)      Share with City Council who you  are and that you support this investment in the new ballpark.

b)      Ask City Council to support this investment in affordable family entertainment.

c)      Share why you support this project and how you will use it personally.

d)      Provide your name, address and phone number.

e)      Thank them for their service to Charlotte and their thoughtful consideration of this investment.

3.      Go to our Facebook page and “like” us at

4.      Send us an email at and we will keep you in the loop about events and this effort.

5.      Lastly, ask friends and family to support this effort by doing these five things.

This is the list of Charlotte City Council representatives and emails.

Mayor Anthony Foxx
Patrick Cannon         
David Howard        
Warren Cooksey         
James Mitchell      
LaWana Mayfield 
Beth Pickering                         
Clair Fallon            
Patsy Kinsey                                        
Michael Barnes        
John Autry                                      
Andy Dulin             

We have seen the power of this downtown development strategy in cities across the country, including Indianapolis, Columbus, Louisville, Toledo, Durham, Oklahoma City, Greenville and Birmingham, just to name a few.  If you want to see concrete examples, click on these links to see news stories about 3 of those cities:
News 14 - Columbus & Durham
WSOC - Greenville SC - Minor League investment pays off

Please stay in touch with us through email, Twitter (#BringBaseballBack), Facebook and With your help, we will bring this affordable entertainment option and redevelopment catalyst to Charlotte.

Michael J. Smith
President and CEO
Charlotte Center City Partners

Monday, March 19, 2012

Again With The VUE!

This article contains no new news, no concrete information, just observations about The VUE.

Recently there was a flurry of activity in the Charlotte Observer indicating that one of the junior partners on the mortgage loan was trying to get the building to go rental.  That story was followed by the developers vehement denial and an indication that the plan to remain condos would continue.

In the midst of this, I continue to show the building to prospective clients.  If you have not been into the building, you owe it to yourself to go to see some of the units.  The feeling you get in that building is unlike any other in the city, the size, the scope, the views, the location, Wow.

For sure it is not a typical building.  If you want a place to sleep, or watch television, or just have a dinner party you will find it to be overpriced.  If you are seeking something other than that, you may very well find yourself a home.

All the talk of the lawsuits, and concerns about the HOA's ability to maintain the amenities, and the impression of a pricing structure that is out of line with the rest of the city may have kept people on the sidelines.  No one wants to be viewed as having made a mistake.  My belief is that there are some good values in the building, and that once occupancy begins to increase, it will increase quickly.

From time to time the sales staff sends out a note with value priced units in the building.  They compare favorably with the rest of the city. 

If you are interested in a unique property please call me, 704-236-7119 and let me schedule a time to show you the building.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

War On The Freeways

The Little Sugar Creek Greenway currently being constructed in Charlotte is turning into a beautiful place to run, ride, walk sit, play, eat, etc.  The stonework being installed is reminiscent of a different time.  I have often thought how wonderful it would be to remove I-277 that separates downtown Charlotte from the Elizabeth - Myers Park area.  It would rival RiverWalk in many areas.

In my dreams I envision the current off ramp for I-277 by the Metropolitan as being the beginning of Charlottetowne Road, bringing renewed life to that whole section of the city, and without the mound that I-277 is there, it would be a gentile slope from the corner of Trade and Tryon all the way to Presbyterian Hospital.

In a similar light, some have called for the capping of the Belk Freeway separating Dilworth from downtown, another wonderful idea.

Will it ever happen, who knows, but it is not beyond the realm of possibilities.

I have come across an article on a blog site called  Go here to read the full article.  The article speaks about the history of how freeways were used as a form of urban renewal (removal?) during the 50's, 60's, and 70's and how that type of thinking is no longer valid, or at least has changed in nature. 

It speaks of how cities that have reclaimed land from freeways, which pay no taxes and develop no business, are experiencing a significant uptick in related property values.  A case in point was the San Francisco Embarcadero Freeway, which was significantly damaged in a 1989 earthquake, and how the replacement boulevard increased nearby property values by 300%.  Wow.

One of my personal favorite cities is Vancouver, British Columbia Canada.  The city made a conscious effort during those freeway building years to say no.  The result is a more vibrant city with more vibrant neighborhoods and less crime.

The ability to reclaim land for tax valuation contributes to the common good, and the result increases property values.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Two Way Streets Rock!

What a difference a two way street make!  Mint Street has just been converted from a one way stretch from Trade Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to a fully functional two way street and you can feel the difference. 

Urban planners will tell you that a one way street is a way to exit traffic quickly from an area, where as a two way street has a calming effect, and will encourage street front retail to grow, something everyone in Charlotte would like to see. 

The two biggest embarrassing views of one way streets destroying a street scape is on College between Third and Fourth, and Third Street between College and Brevard.  Both of these streets were destroyed by the construction of the exits for the BBT Center.  When it was built, the idea was to be able to drive to work, park your car, take an elevator to your office, and then leave the building without ever having to walk on the streets.  The parking garage holds over 1500 cars, and one exit runs next to One Wells Fargo and the Hilton Hotel, killing any street presence there, while the other exit heads north on College and makes the entire ground floor of the BBT Center worthless to any serious street retail.

What were they thinking!  AARGH!

Contrast that now with what is happening in the Third Ward.  The Mint Street conversion is the first step.  The attached photo shows the J-Hook that was Poplar connecting to Mint Street being closed to begin the construction of the Romare Bearden Park, and the photo also shows the asphalt surface parking lots being ripped up to facilitate the building of the park.

In conjunction with that is the changes coming to Third and Fourth Streets. Utility work has begun to extend Third Street up Fourth Street to Mint, where traffic will be diverted a block to connect once again to Third Street. 

Take a walk there and you can feel the changes taking place.

All this means that this section of the Third Ward will begin to become vibrant, as the empty property there will be removed from future market considerations, making the existing property values begin to rise.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New Office Space For Church Street Realty

March 1 2012 found me hanging out in a new office space on West Trade Street. 

It was funny how this happened, I was looking to try to help a friend find space in that area, and in the process, found that a small but affordable office would be unused as part of the changes.

I did the standard Benjamin Franklin pros and cons and discovered that it made more sense to be around people than not.  In this new office, I will be sharing the water cooler with other professionals as well as other industries that I currently do not have any tie with.  These budding relationships will be beneficial as the housing market continues to grow.

The building itself sits across from the Federal Courthouse Building, destined to become part of Queens College in the not too distant future. It is one of the most architecturally interesting buildings in Charlotte with it's distinctive green terracotta facade.

With the advent of the "Cloud", my files are always with me via any computer,or even my phone!  And speaking of my phone, 704-236-7119, this is my only number, no office number, no pager, just 704-236-7119, it is always with me.

My website, is already producing leads for me, and my blog site, has also added leads from all over the world for me.  I post many of the articles from this newsletter as well as other content on my blog, so please check it out, and add an RSS feed.

An additional benefit of being in an office environment is to get out of the house.  As a realtor, I often say that I am always at work.  While that can be good, there are times when separation is a good thing too!

So, the next time you find yourself walking down West Trade Street, pop in 402 West Trade Street, Suite 102 and say Hi!