Mecklenburg Co. Commissioners hear from NYC consultant on uptown properties

07/01/2014 9:36 PM

07/02/2014 9:36 AM

Looking for ways to dispose of four significant uptown Charlotte properties, Mecklenburg County Commissioners were told by a consultant Tuesday the parcels continue to be valuable assets that could reshape the center city.

Candace Damon, vice chairman of HR&A Advisors of New York City, urged commissioners to remain flexible with the parcels to take advantage of rising uptown land values.

Only an acre parcel owned by the county near BB&T BallPark could be marketed today, Damon said.

HR&A was hired to help county staff make recommendations on what to do with the four parcels, in key areas of uptown where they could draw more residents to uptown and groups to Charlotte for conventions.

In addition to the acre lot at Fourth and Graham streets, the others are: Second Ward, the Hal Marshall Center off North Tryon Street and the Bob Walton Plaza on Stonewall Street.

Damon said the site at Fourth and Graham would be appropriate for an office tower or apartments or condos. The site could be disposed of now or in four years in conjunction with a planned transportation center development.

The county for years has wanted to redevelop uptown’s Second Ward into a mixed-use development that would be called Brooklyn Village, a tribute to the mostly African-American community that was torn down during urban renewal of the late 1960s. The section now includes an assortment of government buildings, the county’s 20-year-old aquatic center, the shuttered former Education Center, churches and the little-used Marshall Park.

Plans for the project included a hotel, affordable housing units and market-rate condos, offices, restaurants and a redesigned park. But after Charlotte-based Spectrum Properties dropped out last summer, commissioners authorized county staff to conduct a national search for a new developer.

The site, Damon said, likely would require partnering with a national master developer because of its size and complexity. She suggested the county wait a year to market the site.

Damon said the Hal Marshall site also will require a national master developer because of its size. That site could be “transformative,“ she said. She suggested the county not market that site until 2016.

The consultant’s analysis shows that uptown living has escalated significantly since 2000, driven largely by people ages 20 to 34. Damon said uptown’s office market faces difficult competition from Ballantyne, but recent projects show that uptown still supports office space.

She said the Walton Plaza site could support a mid-range hotel with some residential floors and parking. It shouldn’t be developed until 2020, she said.

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