Sunday, April 29, 2012

Regional Growth And Charlotte

The flurry of articles concerning Ballentyne's investigating seceding from Charlotte to create it's own municipality seems misguided.  Instead of shattering this region into parts, there is a clear trend to build up "Citistates" to wield economic power.

A recent symposium focused on Metro Regionalism, go here to read the report.  The author cites 8 reasons why Regionalism is clearly the building trend for economic growth.  Reading through that list, one cannot help but feel that it could be a definition of Charlotte.

The development of the Multi Modal freight yard at Charlotte Douglass International Airport will pay significant returns as the Panama Canal widening nears completion and the East Coast Markets are reachable by super tankers.  Put this together with the $1Billion infrastructure improvements that the airport is doing in addition to the freight yard and it is even clearer.

The potential merger of American Airlines and US Airways will also make Charlotte more of an international city.

The continued flow of companies relocating their headquarters here is clearly a reflection of the quality of life here, and that quality continues to get better with the cultural improvements such as our museums, performance venues, and restaurants that are taking advantage of our city center.

The aggressive and far seeing transportation plan are the early stages of a regional system that could make Winston-Salem, Spartansburg/Greensburg, and Columbia bedroom communities of Charlotte.  These models currently exist in the Northeast, and can be replicated here.

I recently met a couple staying in Charlotte for a brief visit from New York City.  We talked about the housing market here as compared to New York, and the general consensus was that prices are close to 7 times higher for the same space. The difference is that it is not the same space, New York is an economic powerhouse, while Charlotte is in the early stages of that journey. 

The continued following of that trend will push towards those type of prices and increase all of our property values.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Increased Sales Activity Is Real

It is coming back fast, there is no mistaking it.

As of this writing, there are 63 condos in downtown Charlotte that are under contract, that is huge.  There are only 118 condos currently on the market.  Now if I were to use the logic that the local media has been using for the past 4 years, I would say that we have less than a 2 month supply of condos based on this activity.

Truth is that it does not really work that way.  As the available properties begin to sell off, others who have been waiting for the market to return will put their properties up for sale.   The market will find it's balance.

If you are thinking of buying, the time is now.   Prices will begin to rise because of this activity, and interest rates will follow.  The time is now.

If you are thinking of selling, be careful, and price your property appropriately.  As the market comes back you may be pleasantly surprised.

Opening Day 2014 Is Getting Closer

The Charlotte Business Journal is reporting this morning that BB&T has come to an agreement with the Charlotte Knights for naming rights to the proposed Third Ward Stadium.  Go here to see the article.

This is Home Plate for the new stadium
You don't have to go too far to see that I am a big supporter of downtown baseball, and that I have been predicting that it will become a reality.  This latest news is no guarantee that it will happen, but it sure makes the likelihood of it happening pretty good.

Charlotte City Council is voting tonight on the staff recommendation that the city supports the stadiums efforts with an $8.5 million dollar investment in the future growth of the near Third Ward area.  A huge emphasis is being placed on the additional investments that should be following the construction of the stadium and the completion of the park, in fact, most of the money the city will commit will come from future incremental tax revenues coming from the surrounding properties.

For anyone who has been in Charlotte as long as I have, since 1996, the area where the ballpark will be erected has been a barren wasteland, with little interest for growth potential.  That is all about to change.  See my previous posts about not only baseball, but also the Romare Bearden Park.  This will jump start other projects in that entire area.

The economy is definitely heating up, and the investments in the downtown area continue to grow.  All this activity will raise existing property values.

Again, it is not a done deal, but it sure feels good.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Opening Day April 2014

The stars appear to be aligning for the proposed Charlotte Knights Baseball Stadium to be built in the Third Ward of downtown Charlotte.

The first piece of news was the fact that the Knights have achieved the goal of getting two corporate sponsors.  While they weren't publicly named enough was divulged to convince the county that they had met that first milestone.

There was some speculation that the Knights were in negotiation with Duke Energy for the naming rights to the stadium, and with the proximity of the stadium to Duke's concentration of buildings, it would not surprise me if that is one of the corporate sponsors.

The second piece of news is the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce officially supporting the plan that the stadium will deliver significant development and opportunities in an area that does not produce much tax revenue. 

The third piece of news is that the staff is recommending that the city support the efforts to build the stadium to the tune of $9 million dollars.  While this is less than the Knights requested, it represents a significant positive.  The Charlotte City Council will vote on that later this month. 

Jerry Reese has also filed another lawsuit to try to block the stadium.  His past 5 lawsuits were all lost, and his 5 appeals of the lawsuit also lost.  The most significant effect of these lawsuits was the delay in moving forward with this project.

The construction of the Romare Bearden Park is underway, and the entire feel of the Third Ward is changing.  Take a walk down the now two-way Mint Street and you can feel the possibilities building.  As this neighborhood develops, all property in downtown Charlotte will enjoy a renewed increase in property values.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Discussion About Regionalism

The Red Line, Commuter Rail to Mooresville, will it be built?

This is a tough question, and one that can stifle the regional growth of Charlotte for years.  Some of the towns along the way seem reluctant to chip in, and Norfolk Southern is playing hardball about its right of way.  Many are complaining that the line will be too little used to be worth the investment.

These issues seem short sighted in light of this article by Robert E. Lang, an author who writes about Mega-Politan areas.  His work points to the fact that metropolitan areas in the United States are only trailing metropolitan areas in China and India in terms of density.  He also points out that our country is shifting into regional alliance that will dictate future growth, and that infrastructure within that region must be supported by the region in general.

While he does not talk specifically about the Carolina's as a region, it is not a stretch to see this region running from Raleigh through Charlotte to Atlanta, and perhaps including Columbia.  In a region like this Charlotte stands to be the hub of activity, and a vibrant plan to handle rail transportation is imperative.

The Red Line is just the start.  I can see commuter rail running to Greenville and Spartanburg as well as Columbia.  Going forward, rail will be as important to Charlotte as the airport.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Downtown Charlotte - A Center For Education

Raleigh-Durham envy, many in Charlotte suffer from that disease.  Just look at the lead that area has over Charlotte when it comes to Higher Education, Chapel Hill, NC State, Duke just to name a few.
Charlotte has slowly been planning to make a name for itself in education.  Downtown Charlotte has added Johnson & Wales, UNCC Uptown Classroom Building, Northeastern University and the Wake Forest Graduate School in just the past 15 years.  Tack on to that Johnson C Smith University just up Trade Street on the west side, and CPCC on the east side of Trade Street.

Recently announced is the impending addition of about 150,000 sq ft of classroom space at Gateway for the young Charlotte School of Law in anticipation of a much larger move by that organization.  Queens College is slated to take the current Federal Courthouse located on Trade Street by Mint and develop their own Law Degree.
Our hospitals are also petitioning the state to allow the formation of a Medical College in Charlotte.  This is a lot of activity all going on in a short time period.  As this growth takes place, it will contribute to the rise in property values in the downtown market.