Development

Prominent South End center sold to new owner – with plans to add a lot more retail

Design Center of the Carolinas
Design Center of the Carolinas jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com

South End’s Design Center of the Carolinas has been sold to a company affiliated with Charlotte-based Asana Partners, Mecklenburg County real estate records show – and the new owner plans to turn the site into a South End shopping destination.

Florida-based Ram Realty Services sold the property for $42.7 million, according to a deed filed Nov. 18. The parcels sold total 4.5 acres, and include the main Design Center buildings at the southeast corner of Worthington Avenue and Camden Road, and the office building at the southeast corner of Camden and West Boulevard.

Asana Partners, based in South End, was founded in 2015 by three partners to buy and improve retail centers. The founders include Terry Brown, the former chairman of retail center owner and developer Edens. Asana’s chief operating officer, Jason Tompkins, was chief financial officer at Edens, and chief investment officer Sam Judd was vice president of investments at Edens.

In Charlotte, Edens is in the midst of major makeovers of prominent retail hubs, including Atherton Mill and Park Road Shopping Center.

Judd told the Observer that Asana will convert much of the ground floor to retail uses, though he said it’s too soon to get into specifics.

“In our opinion, South End is the most dynamic part of Charlotte,” he said, “And the Design Center is the best location in South End for retail.”

With Camden Road a particularly walkable street, Judd said the Design Center will be an attractive destination for nearby residents. The buildings’ features, such as an interior courtyard that can be used for shops or restaurants, are also uncommon in Charlotte and will draw tenants and shoppers, Judd said.

The parcels sold in the transaction don’t include several surface parking lots and small structures on the block between Worthington Avenue and West Boulevard that are also owned by Ram Realty.

The Design Center of the Carolinas, housed in a former mill, includes creative office spaces and meeting locations. In September, Ram Realty and West Elm announced that they’re partnering to develop a 150-room hotel at the site, part of the furniture company’s push into the upscale hospitality market. The Design Center hotel is planned to open in late 2018.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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