Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Uncategorized / They’re behind the latest company upping 
the Charlotte area’s apartment inventory

They’re behind the latest company upping 
the Charlotte area’s apartment inventory

WYATT DIXON (LEFT) AND STUART PROFFITT: Their focus, for now, is on apartments. Photo by Nell Redmond

After successful careers in the real estate industry, Stuart Proffitt and Wyatt Dixon found themselves at a crossroads.

The economy was in the crapper, their once-lucrative jobs at big Charlotte firms were either in a state of flux or being eliminated and they were facing one of the worst real estate markets in U.S. history.

With few options, they took a gamble and started their own companies, to varying degrees of success. In June, as the real estate market continued to fluctuate and opportunities appeared and vanished, they merged their two companies, forming Proffitt Dixon Partners.

The real estate investment and development firm’s focus, at least for now, is on apartment communities. Profitt and Dixon have two Charlotte-area projects in various stages of development, one under contract and aspirations to eventually build in Charleston and Raleigh.

But it remains to be seen — thanks to a still-volatile market — what will happen with those projects or the fledgling company as they roll the dice one more time.

“Development is inherently risky. But we’re a young company, and right now I think we’re in a good place,” Dixon said.

In October, Proffitt and Dixon set up shop for their new company in a 2,500-square-foot office near Midtown along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

Shortly after the founding, the pair brought on an additional managing principal, Robert Deaton, a former investment-fund manager and founder of Charlotte-based Southeast Apartment Investors. Proffitt said he and Dixon oversee and manage the business’ day-to-day operations, while Deaton helps with the “macro” strategies.

The biggest project the partners are developing is Fountains at Mooresville Town Square, a 227-unit apartment complex near Lake Norman.

The $23 million project is actually one that Dixon, 43, started in early 2009 after he lost his job with Lane Co. and launched his own business, Hawkins-Dixon.

“I became an involuntary entrepreneur,” he said.

Dixon’s leap into solo proprietorship came following a decade of working for various Charlotte real estate companies. After he earned a master’s degree in real estate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he landed a job in Charlotte with Summit Properties (now Camden Property Trust) in 1998.

He served as the company’s vice president of development and managed land acquisition, development and construction for multifamily projects in the Carolinas, Georgia and south Florida. He was with the company for seven years until Charlotte-based Faison offered him a job in 2005 to manage the company’s multifamily division.

“The market was buzzing and things were looking good,” Dixon said.

They started looking even better when Lane Co., an Atlanta-based real estate company, offered him a position in 2007 to open and manage its Charlotte multifamily division.

As Dixon was climbing the real estate corporate ladder, Proffitt, too, was making a name for himself. The Charlotte native started his career in California; after he graduated from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, he went to the University of Southern California and earned a master’s degree in real estate.

Starting in 2001, he worked as director of development for Champion Development Group, a real estate investment and brokerage firm in Los Angeles. But after four years, he was ready to return to North Carolina and, in 2005, he landed a job with Charlotte-based Pappas Properties as vice president of mixed-use development.

Like Dixon, Proffitt prospered in Charlotte’s booming real estate market and helped develop the residential components of high-profile projects, such as the Metropolitan in Midtown and Ashley Park in SouthPark.

But by 2008, the cracks were starting to show in the real estate industry and new development had slowed to a crawl. In October of that year, Proffitt left Summit and started Proffitt Capital Group.

“The market was changing, and I saw opportunities elsewhere,” he said.

The opportunities he saw included investing in existing multifamily projects instead of trying to develop them from the ground up.

“Nobody knew how bad the world was going to get, so there was a lot less capital in the marketplace and fewer people were buying properties,” he said. “It made pricing very attractive.”

In 2009, Proffitt partnered with QVT Mount Auburn, a real estate investment firm in Los Angeles, and bought three North Carolina apartment complexes — one in Carrboro and two in Chapel Hill, totaling 550 units — for about $30 million. Proffitt said he put up 20 percent and QVT the rest.

Meanwhile, Dixon was struggling to get his own project off the ground. Just three months after Proffitt left Summit Properties in October 2008, Lane Co. shut down its Charlotte office where Dixon was managing the multifamily division.

“Things were tightening up on the lending and capital market side, and it was becoming almost impossible to make deals happen,” Dixon said.

Suddenly unemployed, Dixon, like Proffitt, ventured out on his own and launched Hawkins-Dixon in January 2009. But unlike Proffitt, who was investing in properties, Dixon focused on developing projects, such as Fountains at Mooresville Town Square.

It took nearly two years, but Dixon said Red Mortgage Capital’s Charlotte office secured debt financing for the $23 million development through a Federal Housing Administration market-rate apartment-financing program.

This summer, as Dixon was getting ready to close that deal, he and Proffitt decided to merge their companies. They claim it’s so that they can combine their resources and take advantage of new opportunities.

“Capital is back in the market again, and that’s a good time to develop,” Proffitt said. “Plus, rent prices and absorption rates are improving. People who are right out college aren’t as focused on owning a home anymore, and that’s our target market. So we found some good opportunities on the development side.”

While Hawkins-Dixon owns Fountains at Mooresville Town Square, Proffitt Dixon Partners is developing the 8-acre site off Brawley School Road. Dixon said construction started in May and the first units are scheduled for completion in April.

Proffitt Dixon Partners’ other project is in SouthEnd. In June the company purchased 4.7 acres next to the New Bern Light Rail station to develop Fountains at New Bern Station, a 208-unit luxury apartment community. Proffitt said the partners purchased the foreclosed property at a public auction from TD Bank for $1.5 million. Construction on the $26.2 million project is scheduled to start early next year. A builder has not been selected.

Proffitt said the company also has a contract with the city of Charlotte to purchase about two acres at Stonewall and McDowell streets to build an upscale apartment complex. In July, the City Council agreed to a $4 million purchase price for the land, which the city acquired from the North Carolina Department of Transportation in order to modify the Interstate 277/South Caldwell Street interchange. Proffitt and Dixon declined to comment further on the deal, saying it is pending.

Meanwhile, the partners say they will continue to look out for other real estate opportunities and are willing to go wherever that takes them.

“Right now, our focus is on multifamily development,” Dixon said. “But if opportunities arise for the acquisition of existing assets and investment properties, we’ll look at that as well.”

Boykin can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *