Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bike Sharing Stations

Bicycle Sharing Station In Paris
First Charlotte began to put in EV Charging Stations at several locations around downtown, including the lot across from Rock Bottom, the Government Center Parking Deck, the parking deck for Discovery Place and in front of Starbucks in the Independence Building.  Certainly a big leap forward for a new technology trend.

Now word is out that an old technology, bicycles, will be finding a home in downtown and surrounding suburbs.  Mary Newsom broke it first on her blog, read it here.  While the pricing and functionality are still to be defined, there is a good chance it will be in place prior to the DNC in September.

I went out and found the Zoning request for these bicycles, see here for the zoning request.  When it gets that serious, you know it is coming.

This is important for Charlotte as a vacationing destination for many reasons.  People coming to the city to visit are less likely to try to explore nearby suburbs if they have to drive.  Where to park, how to get there, etc.  Additionally, riding a bike up Queens Drive, one of the prettiest streets in the city, is much more enjoyable if you are not going 50 miles an hour. 

It is also just a good way to get around for sporatic needs.  As a non-car person, I can see myself grabbing a bike riding to Great Harvest on Kings Drive for some fresh bread, and returning the bike to the station.  I only pay for what I use.

We certainly are not in "Old Charlotte" anymore.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Caught In A Time Warp

The economy continues to gather strength, and property values have stablized.  In the June 27th issue of the Charlotte Observer there is a story that speaks to the fact that housing prices have risen for the second month in a row.

This comes as little surprise.  There are fewer properties available on June 27th (108) than there have been for 12 years.  This lack of supply coupled with a rise in demand (there it is again, supply and demand) is beginning to force prices up.  Of the past 9 transactions I have been involved with, 6 have had multiple offers.   From a sellers standpoint, that is encouraging.

The pressure on financially distressed property has also lessened.  Many banks have developed creative programs in an effort to keep people in their homes, and Short Sales are taking the place of Foreclosure activity by a significant amount.

What is also happening is that developments that have been caught in the recession are emerging owned by new companies at a significant reduction in pricing, and they are being agressively marketed to fill up the empty spaces.  Properties such as Ro28 in NoDa, The Garrison in the Fourth Ward, Bloc 90 will soon be marketed, The Park, now Skye, is being completed and available at attractive prices, and the grand daddy of them all, The VUE, has been purchased out of foreclosure for slightly over $100 million.  That is approximately $220 a square foot.

Couple the lack of existing inventory with an increased appetite to purchase with banks easing credit restrictions with these developments caught in a Time Warp and you have the making of a new "Gold Rush".

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

City Council Goes Yard!

With relief pitcher Jerry Reese on the mound, and a generally tea-party infused group creating a ruckus, city council took a mighty swing and approved a financial structure that will allow the Charlotte Knights to actually become the CHARLOTTE Knights!

Using a strange metaphor, Council Member Andy Dulin claimed:

“This deal has been massaged and massaged,” Dulin said. “We have squeezed more wine out of the rock.”

I, for one, would like to find one of those wine producing rocks!

So, the situation now is that the Knights have found a sponsor along with founding partners, and have begun to take reservation for the private luxury suites, and 40% have been reserved.  My belief is that these will be hot tickets.

The task now for the Knights is to finalize their financing for the construction of the park.  Construction needs to be underway by October.

The first thing that will happen to form the land that will become the site of the stadium will be the elimination of the Third Street connector, also clearing way for the eventual move of the Greyhound Bus Terminal to the south side of Fourth Street, and the clearance of the site for the new Amtrak Station. 

I call that a pretty good squeeze!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bottom Of The Ninth, Tied Score, Bases Loaded

I know it seems like I write this article every month, but things have reached a fever pitch (pun intended) for the new BBT Knights Stadium.
Rendering of the new Knights Stadium
First is was BBT announcing that they had come to a long term agreement for naming rights for the stadium.  Then Piedmont Natural Gas announced that they were becoming a Founding Sponsor of the stadium.  Then plans surfaced for Childress Klein to build a 21 story apartment building on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and South Mint Streets.

All of a sudden the concerns of this area becoming a dead zone are melting away.  The prospect of having nearly 600 people within one block of the stadium does that.  The rumor mill is also abuzz of a hotel to be built in the vicinity of the park / stadium.  Ideal for out of town visitors to come for games.
The new rendering for the stadium shown here is pretty dramatic.  The undefined buildings in the general area are meant as placeholders for impending development.  Tie this burst of new development in with the Duke Energy Center, the Museum Complex, Ally Bank Headquarters, and The Catalyst and the changes are incredible. 

This will be augmented by the construction of the new Amtrak Station and Commuter Rail terminal at Graham and Trade and it almost looks like a totally new city. 

There is a legend that Charlotte got the moniker Uptown back in the late 70's when people didn't like to talk about "down things" so in spite of the flight of retail out of the city, boosters started to call downtown "Uptown" to give it a more positive sound.

With this current expansion coupled with expansions in the First Ward around the new UNCC Classroom Building, and Second Ward around  The Madison and Skye and soon Uptown will mean the crossroads of Trade and Tryon while other downtown areas will give birth to other identifying names.

All this will increase the density of downtown Charlotte and help to raise property values.