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Demolition begins, paving way for South End apartments

Historic building in the booming neighborhood coming down, apartments to rise in its place

SOUTH END – Despite the developer’s website saying construction started this time last year, demolition crews have just begun tearing down the Simpson’s Lighting building, at Carson Street and South Boulevard in South End.

Demolition crews tear down the old Simpson Lighting building, to make way for the 1200 South Boulevard apartment project. Photo by Payton Guion

Demolition crews tear down the old Simpson’s Lighting building, to make way for the 1200 South Boulevard apartment project. Photo by Payton Guion

Once the old brick-and-mortar building is gone, Birmingham, Ala.-based Capstone Building Corp. will begin work on 1200 South Boulevard, a 331-unit, $45 million apartment building for Houston-based Cambridge Development Group, according to the Cambridge website.

Once the apartment goes vertical, the general contractor said it will be finished in 17 months.

Cambridge was issued permits for the project at the beginning of the year but waited until the last couple of weeks to actually start the demolition of the building, kickstarting the 1200 South Boulevard project.

Mecklenburg County has issued eight building permits to Cambridge for 1200 South Boulevard, valued at a total of $45.3 million, according to county records. Included in the permits were a $9.7 million parking garages; $482,500 for offices; $29.7 million for the apartment’s shell; nearly $2 million for the second phase of residential construction; $1.7 million for the third phase; and $1.8 million for the fourth phase.

Cambridge hasn’t returned several calls seeking comment on the project, but some in the Charlotte apartment industry speculate that the company waited to start construction because so many other apartment projects are under construction in the neighborhood.

If too much apartment supply becomes available at once in a specific area, apartment operators don’t have as much power to set rents as they would in a more constrained market, said Charles Dalton, president of Real Data, a locally based apartment-market analytics firm.

“I think really right now it’s going to depend on when they come on line,” Dalton said. “I think, obviously, it helps to be the first one to be open or to open late enough so you can get that second wave of renters that come.”

According to the latest Real Data report, rents in South End average $1,141 per month, including the older product in the neighborhood. That’s still nearly $300 more per month than the average apartment in Charlotte, which rents for $868. Dalton said that the newer apartments along the light rail line in South End average rents between $1,200 and $2,000.

Despite the large number of units coming online in South End over the next couple of years, Dalton said he doesn’t see an end for the booming apartment market in that neighborhood.

“Certainly it’s going to be a good market,” he said. “There’s going to be a strong demand of people wanting to live on the light rail and close to downtown. I think all the projects have been spaced out enough so it won’t be a problem.”

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