Uptown’s newest office tower moves ahead with equity financing from China

615 South College rendering
615 South College rendering

Uptown’s newest office tower is set to break ground next week, and developer Portman Holdings said Friday that it has lined up financing from an institutional investor and a Chinese asset management corporation.

The 19-story office tower next to the Westin hotel in Charlotte has a total projected cost of $122 million, and the building is scheduled for completion in February 2017.

Atlanta-based Portman Holdings said China Orient Summit Capital is contributing equity for the project. The Chinese company has previously partnered with Portman Holdings on the 27-story 230 Peachtree building in Atlanta.

“We are delighted to be participating in a second project with Portman, who have a strong local presence in the market, and we expect this investment with them to be as successful as the first,” said Yongli Xu, the company’s chairman. China Orient Summit Capital is a joint venture of two Chinese asset management companies established last year.

One of the two companies behind China Orient Summit Capital is the China Orient Asset Management Corporation, established in 1999 by China’s Ministry of Finance. The company has about $37 billion worth of assets under management. Portman has had an office in China for decades, and the company has a longstanding relationship with Chinese financiers.

A second company is providing debt financing for the 615 South College project. PCCP LLC manages $5.5 billion worth of assets for various institutional clients, investing in real estate.

“PCCP is pleased to provide the financing for the development of this property, which will provide a high quality, well-located office building in a strong submarket that has a steadily growing population and corresponding job growth,” said senior vice president Kevin Chin.

The 371,000 square foot office building is being built on a speculative basis, meaning no tenants have been signed yet. A second speculative building by Charlotte-based Crescent Communities, the 27-story Tryon Place tower at Stonewall and Tryon Streets, is scheduled to start this year as well.

Portman Holdings is marketing its building with Trinity Partners. John Portman & Associates is the architect. Because the office tower will be built atop the Westin’s parking deck, meaning no foundation work needs to be done, construction is expected to go quickly.

Mayor Dan Clodfelter, Gov. Pat McCrory and Mecklenburg County Commission Vice Chairman Dumont Clarke are set to attend the groundbreaking on Friday.

Ambrish Baisiwala, CEO of Portman Holdings, said the building will likely lease for about $33 to $34 per square foot. The company developed and owns the Westin hotel, which opened in 2003. Baisiwala said Portman Holdings has been weighing what to do with the site for years.

“We’ve been biding our time,” he said. Although no tenants have been signed, Baisiwala said he’s confident the building will be leased quickly. “From a tenant point of view, we’ve seen a general hesitancy to commit to something until it’s broken ground.”

He expects interest from prospective tenants to increase once construction is actually underway.

“We are moving ahead with this, so, obviously we feel good about it,” said Baisiwala.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo