Shopping center’s new owners plan to revitalize a corner of University City

Grande Promenade Shopping Center
Grande Promenade Shopping Center

A new owner from the Boston area has purchased a shopping center adjacent to the Blue Line light rail extension in University City, with plans to refurbish it and help remake the area to take advantage of the coming transit.

Mecklenburg County real estate records show Grande Promenade was sold for $40.1 million, in a deal that closed Dec. 12, to Ferris Development Group. The shopping center, at the corner of North Tryon Street and East W.T. Harris Boulevard, includes a Shane’s Rib Shack, IHOP, FedEx, AT&T and several other restaurants.

Ferris executives said it’s the real estate firm’s first investment in Charlotte, and the firm spent about a year researching the market before deciding to buy. The company manages more than 900,000 square feet of office space in the Boston area, and looks for “value-add” opportunities to acquire distressed or poorly managed commercial real estate in which to invest.

The Blue Line extension – set to open in August 2017 – was a deciding factor for Ferris in choosing to buy Grande Promenade. A coming extension of McCullough Drive, connecting the road’s two stub ends, is also planned for the coming years.

“There’s a lot of deferred maintenance,” said Jennifer Wren, Ferris’ asset manager. “We're looking to go in, freshen it up, clean it up. We have money set aside to improve the project.”

Wren said changes could include rebranding the shopping center and adding new tenants. University City Partners is promoting a more walkable, less auto-dependent vision for development moving forward in the area, especially clustered around the Blue Line extension stops. Rehabbing and renovating existing shopping centers such as Grande Promenade is expected to be a key part of that transformation.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo