Development

Here’s another reason the Blue Line extension is booming: Cheaper land

A car passes along Brevard Street as a test train runs on the rails while construction continues on the Lynx Blue Line Extension.
A car passes along Brevard Street as a test train runs on the rails while construction continues on the Lynx Blue Line Extension. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Construction is set to take off soon on thousands of new apartments around the Blue Line light rail extension, where developers have been lining up for the next transit-fed bonanza.

But many plots of land there are still cheaper than along the corresponding, more established stretch of the Blue Line running through South End, which has been open for a decade. The original Blue Line is credited with kicking off a building boom that brought thousands of new apartments and transformed what was once largely an industrial area into the city’s hottest submarket.

The Blue Line extension from uptown to UNC Charlotte is scheduled to open to passengers by March 2018. Atlanta-based Wood Partners announced Wednesday that it’s planning to kick off construction soon at 25th and Brevard streets on another new apartment building, the latest in the boom around new light rail stations.

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Rendering of the planned new apartments at North Brevard and 25th streets. Risden McElroy

Despite the surge of interest, land prices along the Blue Line extension still appear cheaper than in South End. Here’s how much the land for some of the latest apartment deals sold for, on a per-acre basis:

▪ Wood Partners (25th Street Station, sale closed in 2017): $2.32 million per acre.

▪ Crescent NoDa (36th Street Station, closed in 2015): $1.5 million per acre

▪ Southern Apartment Group (27th and North Davidson streets, closed in 2016): $1.39 million per acre

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Construction continues on the Lynx Blue Line Extension near the 25th Street station on Friday, March 24, 2017. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

And land gets cheaper the farther north you head from uptown and NoDa.

▪ Oxford Gateway Apartments (University City Boulevard Station, closed 2016): $432,679 per acre.

Recent sales in South End have been more expensive, topping $3 million per acre. Now, they aren’t necessarily directly comparable, because the developers are building different products on each, justifying the higher price they’ve paid (Or so the developers hope, at least). For example, Lennar Multifamily, developing the former Pepsi Bottling site, will include retail and office space in its plans, drawing higher rents. But the higher land prices show that it’s more expensive to get your foot in the door in South End, and why the Blue Line extension is so attractive.

▪ Pollack Shore apartments (on Tremont Avenue near Tryon Street, closed in 2017): $3 million per acre.

▪ Former Pepsi Bottling site (New Bern station, closed 2016): $3.8 million per acre.

▪ Bainbridge apartments (South Boulevard and Poindexter drive, closed 2016): $3.42 million per acre

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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