Charlotte developer Daniel Levine is teaming up with Florida-based commercial real estate firm Stiles to develop residential and commercial projects in the Carolinas, focusing on grocery-anchored centers.
Levine told the Observer he approached Stiles, a preferred developer for the grocery chain Publix, about a year and a half ago after Publix announced it would build a store on Gold Hill Road in York County. Publix is also building a store in Indian Land.
Levine and Stiles then worked together with property owner Harris Land Co. to develop Ballantyne Town Center, a Publix-anchored shopping center in Ballantyne, which was announced last month. It’s expected to open in 2014, and Publix officials have said they plan to expand further into North Carolina.
Levine declined to comment on any plans Publix may have, but said “I would assume that they are pursuing other stores,” in the Charlotte area.
Said Stiles CEO Terry Stiles: “We are excited about the potential opportunities that exist in North Carolina, especially in the retail, office and multi-family segments.”
The strategic alliance is the latest news for Levine Properties, which kept a low profile during the recession but now is embarking on several projects, including an ambitious uptown urban village that has been talked about since 1998.
Levine said he believes now is a good time to move forward with development – or at least prepare for new development.
More than five years ago, Charlotte was a hotbed of commercial real estate development as investors and developers announced plans for condo towers, hotels, mixed-use communities and more.
The financial crisis and recession sidelined or killed many of those projects. It delayed Levine’s urban village, a public-private venture that will be home to a public park, three parking decks, apartments, office space, restaurants and stores. The project is in First Ward, the area of uptown northeast of Trade and Tryon streets.
Levine is also busy acquiring three additional sites in Charlotte for multifamily projects. Levine is keeping mum on the locations, saying negotiations are ongoing.
“Our investment is for the creation of long-term ownership,” Levine said.
Levine also said he thinks it is a good time to buy land and lay the groundwork for other types of commercial development.
“I think we’re in a transition period, where there may well be certain owners that may want to sell and a new breed of owner or developer that may want to acquire them,” he said. “I think there is a fertile marketplace. For those entities that have capital and can purchase real estate in advance, I think it is a good time.”
Stiles and Levine are already planning for and acquiring property in the Charlotte market for development.
“Through our partnership with Daniel Levine and Levine Properties, which is one of the most respected developers in Charlotte, as well as our long-standing relationship with Publix, we look forward to building a strong presence in North Carolina as the grocery giant continues its expansion,” said Robert Breslau, president of Stiles’ Real Estate Investment Services.
Since 2003 Stiles has acquired a portfolio of close to 4 million square feet of office and retail throughout Florida. The Real Estate Investment group’s acquisition targets include distressed commercial loans, and office and neighborhood retail centers in central business districts and the suburbs.
Clients and tenants include Publix, Best Buy, Ikea and Bank of America.
Commercial real estate analyst Kathleen Rose said grocery chains typically work with a preferred developer, and that it made sense for Stiles to partner with someone locally. She said Levine could help Stiles understand the entitlement process and connect with local professionals involved in real estate.
She also said Levine’s involvement in uptown could make an “interesting” dynamic.
Could it lead to a Publix in uptown one day?
“It’s hard to tell,” she said. “But if the residential real estate market stabilizes and continues to grow, there may be opportunity.”