Levine says apartments in First Ward are on hold as park prepares to open

Construction going on at First Ward Park near UNCC uptown campus and ImaginOn on Sept. 09,2015.
Construction going on at First Ward Park near UNCC uptown campus and ImaginOn on Sept. 09,2015.

With First Ward Park almost open, there are high expectations for redevelopment in the surrounding area. But Levine Properties president Daniel Levine, whose firm is building the park, said construction of planned nearby apartments and a parking deck are on hold for now.

Levine said he’s waiting for payment from UNC Charlotte, which is supposed to contribute a $4.2 million equity investment in return for use of 300 spaces in the 1,300-space deck.

“Our footings are in the ground, but we are on a temporary hold for reasons I’m greatly disappointed in,” said Levine, speaking Tuesday at a Northeastern University forum uptown. It’s the second time Levine has halted construction on the project for the same reason. He also stopped construction this summer while awaiting payment, though Levine restarted the work.

UNC Charlotte said Wednesday that the funds for the parking deck have been placed in escrow. The deal has been approved by the UNC Board of Governors and the Council of State, and reviewed by the N.C. Attorney General.

A spokeswoman said the university is still working with Levine to reach a final version of the agreement. The funds in escrow are set to be released when the agreement is finalized.

Levine started building the deck earlier this year, and plans to build a 264-unit apartment complex wrapped around the structure, at 10th and Brevard streets. Levine Properties owns about 24 acres in First Ward, much of it surface parking lots.

Here’s a look at where other elements of Levine’s redevelopment plans stand:

First Ward Park

The 4-acre park at East 7th Street, across from Imaginon, is set to open Dec. 8. Officials will hold a dedication ceremony followed by tours of the park, hot chocolate and officials turning on the holiday lights. Mecklenburg County plans to purchase and run the park once it is complete.


Levine is planning a pair of hotels at the site, which he thinks will be the next part of the plan to fall into place after the park.

“I assume the hotels will go first,” said Levine. The hotels will both be Hilton-branded properties, a Homewood Suites and a Canopy by Hilton. An exact location or timeline hasn’t been announced yet.

Office tower

A 20-story office tower is planned for First Ward, on a site next to UNC Charlotte’s uptown building at the corner of Ninth Street and the light rail extension. Levine is looking for an anchor tenant, and won’t start construction without one.

“We are not going to do that spec,” said Levine.

Dixie’s Tavern building

The Philip Carey building on East 7th Street is more than 100 years old, dating from 1907. A former warehouse, it was most recently Dixie’s Tavern. Levine said plans are proceeding with a multimillion dollar historical renovation to turn the building into modern offices and a facility that will have some public access. Levine wouldn’t say who the tenant is, but said people would be “excited” when the tenant is announced.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo