West Morehead Street has emerged over the past decade as a commercial revitalization district as aging warehouses have been converted to modern offices.
Now, residential revitalization is poised to be The Next Big Thing in development there.
The first building in Skybridge Terrace, a planned 144-unit condo project, has been completed on West Morehead at Calvert Street near Interstate 77, and the initial owners have begun to move into their units.
The $22 million project occupies 2.2 acres with a greenway connection that provides pedestrian access to uptown via Third Ward and the Bank of America Stadium area.
Chris Ogunrinde, a member of the project team and a West Morehead commercial pioneer, believes Skybridge Terrace is an indicator of what's ahead for the corridor.
“We think we have opened the gates for residential uses in what has been a warehouse district,” he said. “We can see the corridor filling with activities as more development comes in around us.”
Closer to the center city, Citiline Resortline Development is developing townhomes, flats and commercial units just off West Morehead in the Third Ward Warehouse District.
“We think this is a great corridor for housing,” said Citiline's Tim Crawford. But demand has been slowed, he said, by the sluggish market and tighter lending policies.
A key to residential development in the West Morehead corridor, he said, will be what happens to Beazer Homes' 18.5 acres – one of largest undeveloped tracts inside the Interstate 277 loop.
The troubled homebuilder had planned a mixed-use project on the site across from Bank of America Stadium with up to 400 residential units.
Instead, it listed the acreage for sale earlier this year through CB Richard Ellis for about $42.7 million.
“The stalled project has hurt the whole area,” Crawford said. “It's a pretty big void.”
CB Richard Ellis' Steve Lowe said the real estate company has received several offers and is working through them. “We are not at the end of the game, but we're making great progress,” he said.
The economic slowdown also set back development of another potential large project on 2.4 acres at West Morehead and South Church streets.
A developer dropped plans earlier this year for a 224-unit apartment community there.
Commercial development in the region has slowed but not as severely as residential development.
At 1213 West Morehead across from Skybridge Terrace, developers have announced a 225,000-square-foot self-storage facility sandwiched between rental offices on the top and bottom floors.
And McCoy Holdings is renovating the old Grinnell building at 1431 W. Morehead for 28,000 square feet of loft offices.
Farther out Morehead at the Wilkinson Boulevard intersection, American Investment Exchange plans a 40,000-square-foot office building on a 1.6-acre parcel that once housed the Plantation Grill.
Ogunrinde, a principal in Neighboring concepts with Darrel Williams and Luis Tochiki, said the firm has been active on West Morehead since it bought the triangle-shaped Carolina Moving and Storage warehouse in 1998 and converted it to office condos.
The commercial development under way in the corridor is setting the stage for future retail and residential development, he believes.
The increased density has the potential to attract shops and restaurants to serve office workers and residents.
And the area also could appeal to office tenants and condo owners seeking to enjoy center city amenities without paying center city prices.
The remaining Skybridge Terrace condos – 500 to 1,060 square feet – are priced, for example, from the $120,000s to the $280,000s.
Prices fall in the $250-a-square-foot range compared with $350 a square foot or more inside I-277.
The project eventually will have three buildings – 48,000 square feet each – connected by sky bridges to give owners uptown skyline and Wesley Heights tree canopy views.
Ogunrinde said the skyline side, with the largest and most expensive units, has been the most popular so far.
Buyers put contracts on all the units, he said, but some are struggling to arrange financing and close in the uncertain lending market.
Purchasers have been a mix of older professionals, young professionals and people seeking a second dwelling.
By the end of this week, Ogunrinde expects owners to have closed on about 20 of the 48 condos in the initial phase.
The construction timing of the other two buildings is uncertain. The next phase will hinge on market demand, Ogunrinde said.
He and his partners in Neighboring Concepts, an architectural and urban planning firm, are spearheading the development in partnership with Michael O'Brien of O'Brien Architecture.
O'Brien's firm designed Skybridge Terraces – four levels of condos atop one level of secure parking – with Neighboring Concepts. Sagehorn & Co. Inc. is the general contractor.
Doug Smith: 704-358-5174, firstname.lastname@example.org
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