Construction launches on Lincoln Harris’ two SouthPark office towers

The Lincoln Harris real estate firm has begun construction on the two 10-story office towers it announced late last year for the SouthPark area.

John W. Harris III, son of Johnny Harris, the firm’s founder and CEO, said Thursday that Lincoln Harris closed on the Capitol Towers at Carnegie property last week.

“We’re live. Shovels are in the ground, dirt is getting moved and we’re going at it,” said Harris, the firm’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

The project will go up on just under 6 acres behind Piedmont Town Center. It consists of two 10-story office towers to be located at Carnegie Boulevard and Congress Street.

Each will comprise 240,000 square feet. The site plan calls for the two office towers to sit at either end of the block formed by Congress Street and a loop of Carnegie Boulevard. The towers would front Congress Street, with a seven-story parking deck between them.

The project also includes retail and restaurant space. The first office tower is slated for completion in late 2015. Harris declined to say how much the towers will cost.

The project doesn’t yet have an anchor tenant. Local real estate developers in recent years have been reluctant to build office towers without a major tenant for fear they might otherwise struggle to get all the space leased.

John Harris said the firm feels confident Campbell Walker, the lead leasing agent on the project, and his team can get the buildings leased.

Companies are looking to expand as the economic recovery accelerates, Harris said, and there are few large blocks of contiguous office space available to them in SouthPark.

“The demand is there, and we wanted to make sure we were the first group out of the ground,” he said.

The office vacancy rate in SouthPark is 11.4 percent, according to Karnes Research. The city’s overall office vacancy rate is 14.3 percent.

Harris said the last comparably sized project built in SouthPark was Piedmont Town Center, which his firm developed about eight years ago.

The announcement of construction on the Capitol Towers project comes little more than a week after Babson Capital Management announced it will be the anchor tenant for the new 25-story, 634,000-square-foot building to be built on South Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte.

Harris said he didn’t think that building, scheduled for groundbreaking this fall, would hinder leasing at Capitol Towers.

“They are two different markets,” he said of uptown and SouthPark. “I think everybody’s excited to see development, no matter where it is, coming back into play.”