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Bissell takes step toward new Ballantyne office building

CHARLOTTE – The Bissell Cos. has received engineering approval for property on which it has announced plans to build an 11-story office tower, leaving only one step remaining before the company would be allowed to start construction.Bissell_BallantyneWEB

Bissell, the local development firm responsible for Ballantyne Corporate Center, still would need to submit plans for the office building to the Mecklenburg County Code Enforcement Department in order to receive building permits before construction could start. As of Monday, no permits had been issued, according to the county’s building permits database. It wasn’t immediately known if Bissell has submitted plans, as code enforcement staff members didn’t return calls.

Brendan Smith, a senior engineer with the city of Charlotte who reviewed the engineering on the Bissell land, said the city has approved all predevelopment engineering and said Bissell has paid all related fees for the project – $12,190, according to the city’s website.

Clifton Coble, president of Bissell Development, said Monday that development was not imminent on the building, which is planned for somewhere on roughly 117 acres surrounded by Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Ballantyne Community Place and North Community House Road. Development of the office building would disturb only 6.5 acres, according to the city’s engineering website.

“We went ahead and did (the engineering) so we can pull the trigger when we’re ready for more office space,” Coble said.

Speculation has increased that Bissell will develop another tower in Ballantyne as the vacancy in its two newest buildings, the Gragg and Woodward buildings, has decreased sharply since those buildings came online in December 2012. MetLife has leased about 400,000 square feet across both buildings, which are just shy of 285,000 square feet apiece.

Coble didn’t give an expected construction date on the project and not much information is available on the specs of the building. The city’s engineering site says it will be an 11-story tower with a 1,050-space parking deck. The Gragg and Woodward buildings have just more than 1050 parking spaces each, according to the Bissell website. If the parking ratio is similar on Bissell’s planned building – Gragg and Woodward both have 3.75 spaces per 1,000 square feet – it would be close to the same size.

The city’s engineering site listed an anticipated construction start date of April 1, but Smith said those dates don’t hold much weight and are simply an item to be filled out on engineering documents. Coble was firm in saying Bissell doesn’t have an expected start date.

Vacancies in the Charlotte office market are at their lowest point since the recession and rents are at their highest, according to fourth quarter numbers from Karnes Co., a local analytics firm. Karnes also reported that no new office space was completed in 2013, the first time that’s happened since at least 1988, increasing speculation that developers will soon start new office space in the city.

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