Charlotte, feds to swap property for federal courthouse

Charlotte and the federal government have reached an agreement on a land swap, under which the city and the General Services Administration will exchange the federal courthouse and an uptown parking lot.

Tony Korolos, manager of the city of Charlotte’s real estate division, said the city was informed within the past year that the federal government won’t be building a new courthouse to replace the Jonas Federal Courthouse at 401 W. Trade Street.

That means the federal court will remain in the Jonas building, which was constructed in 1934 and originally served as the main post office for the city. The General Services Administration, a federal agency that manages real estate, currently pays the city almost $1 million a year to rent the building.

Korolos said the GSA wants to own the building, and will swap a 3.2-acre lot it owns at 501 E. Trade Street in exchange for the almost 3-acre Jonas building property. The 501 E. Trade Street property is currently a surface parking lot, which Korolos said could be sold for a future development. The city will operate the lot until it is sold, collecting annual revenue of about $450,000.

“We’ve been working on this transaction for about 12 months,” said Korolos. “From a city standpoint, we will have a great lot in a very strategic location by the streetcar, and it’s appreciating in value.”

The courthouse property is valued at $12.6 million, and the parking lot at $15.5 million. To make up the difference, the city will replace the courthouse’s aging roof, a project that should take about 18 months. The swap itself will happen in Feb. 2017, and was approved by Charlotte City Council on Monday night.

The city has had a string of successes selling land to private developers lately. Five parcels of land along Stonewall Street have been sold to private developers and are under development or planned to be soon.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo