South Charlotte

SouthPark's allure still attracts new business

At a time when commercial expansions and ribbon-cutting ceremonies are hard to come by, SouthPark is soon to be the home of Bank of North Carolina's new southern region headquarters.

Construction is now under way at the growing High Point bank's newest site, 5980 Fairview Road, across from Piedmont Town Center and in the heart of SouthPark.

"It's a big step for us, and we're really excited to make a splash in that area," said regional executive Rob Ellenburg.

The southern region headquarters will be a 13,000-square-foot, two-story steel structure wrapped in a glass curtain wall system, with a granite base.

Construction is expected to finish in October.

The bank bought the land, a plot just shy of one acre, about a year and a half ago.

Real estate analyst Frank Warren of Warren & Associates said SouthPark has one of the lowest vacancy rates in Mecklenburg County, which makes it a desirable location for any corporate office that wants new customers.

"They're going to locate that branch just like where Starbucks puts coffee shops - it's all about traffic, visibility and money," said Warren.

Other "in-town submarkets," such as Midtown, Uptown and Cotswold have lower vacancy rates than the suburban markets, he said.

SouthPark's allure includes two other new-construction projects in the heart of the development.

Less than a half-mile down Fairview, the long-anticipated Whole Foods, adjacent to Phillips Place, is also under construction.

The high-end grocer broke ground on the 42,000-square-foot building in April 2011, and the store is expected to be open this spring.

The new Autobell at the corner of Park and Tyvola Roads is also in the works and could be finished this spring, with the car wash open by April or May.

The building was designed to fit in with the SouthPark image.

Unlike any of the 61 car washes the company currently operates, the newest location will have columns, landscaping, a fountain and a green roof covered in plants.

CEO and co-owner Carl Howard has said the car wash could be open by April or May.

The bank hired J.D. Goodrum Company to be the general contractor.

Based in Cornelius, J.D. Goodrum also built a storage facility along Ballantyne Commons Road and did some up-fit work in Ballantyne Village.

"It's been a lot of interior up-fits and small renovation projects over the past couple of years," said Jamie Yoxtheimer, vice president at J.D. Goodrum.

"Developers and owners have been kind of holding back to see what the economy does. Having something new and exciting is a good feeling."

Ellenburg said SouthPark is a high-profile location for the community bank.

"When you're a community bank, making a splash in uptown Charlotte is a little more difficult," said Ellenburg. SouthPark "is a good business environment (with) a lot of customers we chase."

Many of those customers are owner-managed businesses and real estate investors.

Bank of North Carolina has an existing commercial lending office on Fairview Road, but it wasn't until January that the bank opened its first Charlotte branch, at Carmel Road and N.C. 51.

The bank has also expanded to Mooresville, Concord, Harrisburg and Salisbury.

The new southern region headquarters will have a traditional branch on the bottom floor, a drive-through teller option and offices on the second floor.

Though the new Bank of North Carolina southern region headquarters isn't a 20-story office behemoth, the new project is significant because of the limited construction in the greater Charlotte market.

"It's an indication that SouthPark continues to be a desirable office and retail location," said Warren.