Condo developer satisfied with sales

Rosewood was destined to be a Next Big Thing when the Georgia developers paid about $7 million for the nearly nine-acre condo site at Providence and Sharon Amity roads in 2004.

WCDM Development of Macon won a bidding competition that included more than 20 proposals for Oliver and Marie Rowe's former estate and landmark rose garden in south Charlotte.

Many of the company's Charlotte competitors thought it paid too much. Nearby homeowners worried about the size – 134 units in three eight-story towers – and the potential for more traffic and runoff. But negotiations with neighborhood leaders resolved the issues, and four years later the French Renaissance-style complex continues to pique curiosity.

So far, 94 condos have been sold and about 60 owners, including TV golf analyst Peter Oosterhaus, have moved in. The 40 remaining units are priced from the mid-$600,000s to about $2 million.

Sales manager Terry Rieder would prefer to see a sellout, of course, but he's satisfied, considering the nation's anemic housing market.

At least a half-dozen people who have toured Rosewood probably would buy today, he said, if they could sell their existing homes – an issue cited by real estate brokers throughout the Charlotte region.

A potentially big competitor in the high-end market fell by the wayside in January when Portman Holdings postponed One Charlotte, a 40-story uptown tower planned next to the Westin Charlotte.

Other condo projects have been put on hold, too, further reducing luxury competition and enhancing Rosewood's position in the market.

Most of the 100 new and resale condos and townhomes priced above $500,000 (excluding Rosewood) are in Myers Park and the center city, said analyst Maggie Collister of The Littlejohn Group.

Sales in the high-end market for attached housing is mixed, she said, with new units showing better results statistically than existing units.

Resales in the $400,000 and higher market declined 30 percent to 41 condos and townhomes in the second quarter from a year ago.

But new construction closings declined only slightly to 50 units from 54 during the same period. The decrease likely was smaller because many of the closings were for units put under contract in 2006 and 2007, Collister said.

Today's buyers are more wary of signing pre-construction contracts, she and others in the real estate industry say, after witnessing the high profile foreclosure of The Park condos and seeing others stall.

But that could work to Rosewood's advantage as the residential market recovers.

Buyers can be confident they are putting money down a finished project and that they won't have to wait for it to be built, Collister said.

WCDM Development principal Jerry Stephens believes Rosewood also has an edge because it allows buyers to custom-finish their condos in a market where pre-designed packages are more common.

He said customization appeals to empty nesters – the largest demographic at Rosewood – as they seek to down-size from single-family houses and eliminate maintenance chores.

Golf analyst Oosterhaus actually was looking for a single-family house in Charlotte when he discovered Rosewood. He spends about 30 weeks on the road covering golf events for CBS, and he needed a home that would be convenient to air travel and secure when he's away.

Oosterhaus, who moved from Arizona in February, said he became acquainted with Charlotte in the mid-1970s when the Kemper Open was played here. His eighth-floor penthouse has the premier view at Rosewood – what Stephens calls “the 100 percent view of the skyline.”

On the opposite side of the complex, an unsold penthouse –$1.9 million, 3,840 square feet – has views of the SouthPark area and Kings Mountain.

In developing the project, the WCDM restored the Rowe family rose garden and preserved more than 4.5 acres of wooded land.

The Rowes' 85-year-old house, now called the Historic Rosewood Home, was sold to developers who restored it and now are offering it for sale on an adjacent Sharon Amity lot.

Rosewood is pushing the envelope, real estate experts say, by trying to lure buyers to the outer edge of the urban core when most of the high-density projects have been built closer to uptown.

Stephens is sold on the location, and he believes his buyers are, too. It's about five minutes from SouthPark, two minutes to Cotswold shopping and near Myers Park and other golf-course country clubs.

And Rosewood, with a concierge and 24-hour security, isn't just a condo project – it's a community, Rieder said.

“Our residents have a formed a wine club, a book club, a bridge club and others. They enjoy each other's company. That's what we wanted.”

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