CHARLOTTE – Kent Walker is sitting on 13.594 acres of prime Uptown real estate, spread across four parcels, that he can’t get off his hands quickly enough. Yet developers aren’t biting.
Walker, who doesn’t own the land but instead is one of the two men tasked by the city to market and sell it, said that in 2013, not a single office developer approached him or his partner in an attempt to buy some of the land between Interstate 277 and Stonewall Street.
The lack of interest from developers is somewhat surprising, considering that much of that land is positioned near the Charlotte Convention Center, with visibility from both Uptown and I-277, factors that usually make developers drool. But Walker blames the still-recovering economy and said he thinks 2014 could be the year when he’s able to sell more of the land.
“My opinion is that it will happen; on the other hand, you never know,” he said. “We keep hearing the economy is getting better. Based on that I’d have to feel positive.
“The conversations are getting a little more serious.”
Walker and his partner are selling the parcels for the city in order to recoup the $20 million the city borrowed to help finance the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Of that $20 million, they’ve brought back only $3.8 million from the sale of a fifth parcel of land, a 2.28-acre wedge at the corner of Stonewall and McDowell streets. Charlotte-based Proffitt Dixon Partners in May of 2013 bought the land to develop a 210-unit apartment complex. The city is only required to repay the loan as the land is sold.
In December, Mecklenburg County issued 26 building permits, valued at nearly $50 million, to an LLC set up by Proffitt Dixon for work on the project, called Fountains Uptown. Calls to the developer weren’t returned, but Tim O’Brien, of the city’s real estate department, said heavy construction will start shortly.
Earlier this month it appeared that development may be about to begin on another one of the parcels, a 3.746-acre piece across the street from the Hall of Fame. But O’Brien said that land is being used as a staging area for construction equipment from the Fountains project, since that site is so tight.
The four parcels that Walker still has for sale are all zoned UMUD, an urban, mixed-use district that allows the tallest and densest development of the city’s zoning classifications. The development plan is to add office buildings, hotels or apartment complexes, all with some other commercial use included, Walker said.
“Look around North Tryon and South Tryon (streets) and that’s the variety of mixed use we’re looking for,” he said. “I do feel positive, I think we have an outstanding piece of land and all the sales points are still very valid.
“We’re certainly having conversations with anyone who might be interested.”
Parcel 1: 5.352 acres at the southwest corner of Caldwell and Stonewall streets.
Parcel 2: 3.746 acres at the southeast corner of Caldwell and Stonewall streets.
Parcel 3: 2.681 acres on Stonewall Street, next to the I-277 exit ramp.
Parcel 4: 1.815 acres on South Boulevard (Caldwell Street).
Parcel 5: 2.280 acres at the southeast corner of McDowell and Stonewall streets. Sold to Proffitt Dixon Partners in May 2013 for $3.8 million