Wednesday, September 16, 2009

49ers' football campaign passes $3.2 million mark -

49ers' football campaign passes $3.2 million mark -

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Charlotte, Lake Norman North Carolina Real Estate News

Charlotte, Lake Norman North Carolina Real Estate News 

Charlotte, Lake Norman North Carolina Real Estate News Columnist Doug Smith recently retired.
This is the last column of Doug Smith, many of us of us in Charlotte, in the real estate biz or not, have followed his "Next Big Thing" pieces for years.
Given his time of writing about Charlotte and documenting our growth so to speak,  a few parting words from Doug are worth passing on.

Before I go, some last words of advice

With Charlotte's outerbelt still at least four years from completion, people already are talking about an outer-outerbelt.
They should squelch that idea right now.
Urban sprawl and traffic already are choking suburban areas in the path of Interstate 485.
As quickly as a new interchange opens, developers are all over it with plans for shopping centers, business parks and subdivisions.
Perhaps during this downturn, public policymakers will give serious thought to how the city can concentrate more density inside the urban core and integrate new development with mass transit.
It's happening to some extent along the Lynx light rail line in south Charlotte.
Managing growth is the dominant theme that comes to mind as I reflect on my nearly 20 years of covering real estate and development in Charlotte.
I have a few other pieces of advice as I officially enter retirement:
Build truly efficient urban villages. Mixing office, retail and residential on the same site was one of the hot trends before the economy hit the skids. What's not to like about a Birkdale Village or a Phillips Place?
The concept is good, but the execution since Birkdale and Phillips Place has sometimes fallen short. In their zeal to promote mixed use, public officials have allowed strange configurations of residences and businesses that do little to meet the goals of compactness, fewer car trips and less air pollution.
Resist over-speculation. Developers who thought the boom of the past five years would never end will pay the price, possibly losing office buildings, shopping centers and business parks to foreclosure.
Many gambled – as developers always do when they start a project – but failed to anticipate the upheaval brewing in the financial markets.
Local people in the industry will tell you the problem was exacerbated by out-of-towners trying to jump in and make a quick buck. But hometown development firms are feeling the pain, too, as homebuyers hold back and businesses curtail expansion plans.
Don't succumb to the herd mentality. When the first uptown high-rise condo project proved successful, everyone else it seems plunged into the market, saturating the center city with proposals.
Latecomers learned a hard lesson as legal battles, foreclosure and lender backlash stymied several projects and made buyers skittish.
Only one tall condo tower remains under construction and plans for 10 are out of the picture. Experts believe it could be three years before anyone resumes building residential high-rises. Note to developers: Know when to hold them, know when to fold them.
Build apartments in sync with demand. With unemployment up and uncertainty in the workplace, there won't be enough renters to fill the estimated 6,000 apartment units under construction in the Charlotte area.
The market will be cutthroat as developers offer renters lucrative incentives to fill new projects while older complexes struggle to survive.
This is one of the most puzzling things about Charlotte real estate. Apartment developers have never built to match consumer demand. The cycle is always boom and bust.
Will it be this way forever?
Allow me one last word. In this sluggish economy, elected officials will be eager to get residential and commercial projects started again. Be careful. People will be tempted to make expedient decisions they might regret later.
Now is the time to respond to citizen complaints about unbridled growth. Policymakers should give priority to development that fills gaps in existing neighborhoods and should discourage more land clearing in the distant suburbs. Stick to the plan, without exception.
My tenure reporting on the phenomenal growth of my hometown has been fascinating indeed.
When I began in 1990, construction was just beginning on the 60-story Bank of America Corporate Center.
The first leg of I-485 had been started in south Mecklenburg, but Ballantyne still hadn't been announced.
There were no mixed-use urban villages or uptown residential towers. No Northlake, Concord Mills or Carolina Place malls.
Charlotte's population was 395,934 compared with an estimated 716,874 today.
I can only wonder from the sidelines what the next 20 years will bring.

Thanks Doug enjoy your retirement!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What does Lake Norman Greenways Mean to your Home or your Future Home

Established and Planned Greenways In the Cornelius, Huntersville area provide numerous economic benefits to  Mecklenburg County, including higher real property values, increased tourism and recreation related revenues, and cost savings for public services.
Greenways have been shown to increase the value of adjacent properties by as much as 5 to 20 percent.
For example, within a new development in Apex, North Carolina, new lots situated on greenways were priced $5,000 higher than comparable lots off the greenway. In Charlotte, national builders typically charge premiums ranging from  $1000 to $5000 for $120,000-$200,000 homes bordering open space and greenways.
Many home buyers and corporations are looking for real estate that provides direct access to public and private greenway systems. Greenways are viewed as amenities by residential, commercial and office park developers who, in turn, are realizing higher rental values and profits. American LIVES, a Real Estate Research Firm, completed a national study of the top reasons that people choose their new home. Walking and biking paths are viewed as extremely important to 74% of buyers nationally. The Crosland Land Company, Charlotte, NC, surveyed 800 new and older Charlotte area homebuyers in 1993 and found that walking/biking paths that meander was the second most important amenity to buyers across all price points and buyer types. Additionally, greenways in Mecklenburg County can also save local tax dollars by utilizing strategies for managing community storm water and placing into productive use landscapes that would not normally be developed for community uses. The 2015 Plan for Mecklenburg County states that Mecklenburg County  has a strong record of economic vitality and new jobs. Greenways will enhance the quality of life in Mecklenburg County and ensure long term economic viability. Tourism is currently ranked as the number one economic force in the world. In several states, regional areas, and localities throughout the nation, greenways have been specifically created to capture the tourism potential of a regional landscape or cultural destination. The State of Missouri, for example, spent $6 million to create the 200-mile KATY Trail, which, in its first full year of operation, generated travel and tourism expenditures of more than $6 million. Orange County, Florida spent $2 million to create the 16-mile West Orange Greenway and expects to realize a complete return on its investment in the first year of operation through the economic revitalization of the small towns that lie along the trail's route.
Greenway Name Mileage StatusWhat does Lake Norman Greenways Mean to your Home or your Future Home

 Upper Little Sugar Creek 1.1 Existing
Lower Little Sugar Creek 1.3 Existing
Mallard/Clark's Creek 3.7 Existing
McAlpine Creek 4.1 Existing
McMullen Creek 1.3 Existing
McAlpine Nature Trail 1.7 Existing
McAlpine Cross Country 3.1 Existing
Mallard/Clark's Creek III 3.0 Planned
Torrence Creek 2.3 Planned
Irwin Creek 3.75 Planned
Lower McAlpine Creek 3.2 Planned
Lower McMullen Creek 1.3 Planned

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Augustalee, Cornelius North Carolina - Augustalee Update 9/3/2009

Augustalee Cornelius NCI have been following the proposed Augustalee development in Cornelius North Carolina for over a year now. There have been some major changes in the past couple of weeks that can change the total outlook of this project.
Recently, the original owners have had some issues with it's lenders and now have lost the opportunity to continue with Augustalee. Here is an article written in the The Herald that explains the lastest news on the project.

The Michigan pension fund that took over the proposed Augustalee project Thursday predicts it can find the new capital and "additional development expertise" needed to "move the project forward."

In a statement released by their Charlotte attorney Friday, Aug. 28, BUILD Fund officials said they also look "forward to working with officials for Cornelius, other state and local officials and Fifth Third Bank."

Fifth Third Bank is the senior lender on the proposed $155 million, mixed-used development, and the BUILD Fund was the second lender until foreclosing on the original developers, Cornelius Bromont and Bromont Investments.

Katten Muchin Rosenman, the Charlotte law firm representing the BUILD Fund, held a foreclosure sale at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, at the firms' offices on the 26th floor of 3 Wachovia Center. The BUILD Fund, which already has advanced the development $19 million, was the sole bidder for Augustalee, offering $2.5 million.

Walt Rector and his son, Josh, who own Cornelius Bromont, the original developers, attended the foreclosure proceeding with their attorney, but neither spoke a word.

Cornelius town officials have participated previously in meetings with the Rectors and officials with the BUILD Fund about "how this would proceed," Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte said Friday, Aug. 28. He said those meetings have been "very civil," and he knows that the Rectors and the BUILD Fund are working together on other projects in Dallas, Texas.

Tarte compared the Augustalee dispute to a "quarrel in a family," although he noted that "families sometimes divorce."

Bradley Pearce, the Charlotte attorney representing the BUILD Fund, told the Herald after Thursday's foreclosure sale that BUILD Fund officials have not asked the Rectors to leave the project. Pearce said negotiations between all the parties are continuing.

Earlier in the week, the Rectors sued the BUILD Fund, accusing the pension fund of breach of contract and unfair trade practices. The Rectors contend the BUILD Fund breached its loan agreement to provide an additional $4 million by May 13, triggering the events that led to the foreclosure. The Rectors have asked a judge to order the BUILD Fund to pay damages or the $4 million it promised.

Through a marketing firm, the Rectors have refused to comment. Amy Pritchard Williams, the Charlotte attorney representing the Rectors, said Friday, Aug. 28, that she could not comment on the foreclosure sale or the Rectors' suit against the BUILD Fund. Fifth Third Bank officials did not attend Thursday's sale and have refused comment previously.

In its prepared statement, BUILD Fund officials said they are "optimistic" about moving forward despite Bromont's "failure to satisfy certain milestones and inability to raise additional capital needed to complete the project, including the financing of certain infrastructure and required offsite improvements."

The BUILD Fund describes itself as "a commingled real estate fund that provides, among other things, equity and mezzanine debt financing for various real estate developments and projects around the country."

Once the BUILD Fund, the Rectors and Fifth Third Bank officials have reached some understanding, Tarte hopes the developers will come to a meeting of the town's Board of Commissioners "to share their view of the project."

"They might not want to change a thing," Tarte said. "They might want to scale back or they might want to do something completely different."

But the best outcome for Cornelius, he said, is getting Augustalee built as designed. "What other project could we bring to that 104 acres, or anywhere in North Carolina, that will immediately create 1,000 construction jobs ... and pay for $120 million in road improvements?" Tarte asked. "We need and want Augustalee," he said. "It would be unbelievably tragic and unfortunate," if the projects fails.

At the same time, the mayor said the BUILD Fund still faces an economy in crisis and a minimum delay of at least a year. "There's no magic," he said. "The biggest hurdle is finding the funding, which will pay for the debt service to begin building. No matter who they are, the owners aren't going to see any revenue until something comes out of the ground."