CREW Charlotte October Luncheon: A Detailed Look at the New 615 South College Street Project
Who you missed: The panel was moderated by Chad Martin Vice President of Holder Construction Company. The Panel members were:
Norris Hunt – Vice President, Senior Project Manager, John Portman & Associates
Eric Hampton – Engineer, Kimley Horn
John Ball – Senior Leasing Agent, Trinity Partners
Travis Garland – Director of Leasing, John Portman & Associates
What you missed: This speculative office tower has broken ground and will encompass 375,000 square feet with a 1600 space parking garage. The completion date is slated for the first quarter of 2017. The conversation began with a video overview that you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tBwuzpV7YY
The vision for this project began differently than the final plan for office space adjacent to the Westin Hotel. When John Portman & Associates developed the Westin they had always planned a mixed use project next to Westin. As the market turned south the plans were put on the back burner. In 2012 (vacancy at 12%) they began dusting off the plans, switching gears towards office space only and a 1600 car garage (3/1000).
This project, and surrounding construction projects, can help shape the future of Charlotte by creating an entry area into Uptown from Southend where people can get to work easily by rail or drive and park with the plentiful parking. There is a purposeful strategy in staying away from retail as Stonewall Street will become a shopping hub over the next few years.
The growth in this Southern sector means that small, medium and large companies can have Class A office space with a fresh, yet consistent look and feel, open or “collision zones” for staff interaction, balcony space (if desired), convenience of light rail or traditional commuting all at the Southern Gateway of Uptown.
There were many challenges from start to present in bringing this project to the table. The market justified the project in 2012. The equity was there, but the debt to take on a speculative project was a big risk. The use of non-traditional lenders enabled the project to move forward in that climate without having to prelease a large amount of space.
The physical project is hemmed in by the light rail and a parking deck. Looking at these two encumbrances as an asset has allowed for creativity in making the destination desirable for commuting by car or public transport.
The suburban South Charlotte Market has been a challenging competitor for the Uptown market over the last few years. This location will attract those that normally would have not considered the Uptown market. Additionally, the cost per foot will compare favorably and will continue to highlight Charlotte as a less expensive urban office destination for relocating companies than other markets like Atlanta and Denver.
The Charlotte market is healthy, with a more diverse ownership of portfolios created by recent movement of properties. This project can help set the stage to draw a fresh clientele to the Uptown while helping spur growth in the Southern sector for office, retail and help continue to draw South End towards Uptown.