A Booming Core

The live-work-play environment most cities are striving to create is largely in place in the heart of Charlotte. Office buildings in uptown–locals never refer to the central business district as downtown–teem with young professionals. Crowds cluster around major hotels and entertainment venues, and sports fans have easy access to the stadium for the Carolina Panthers NFL team and the arena for the Charlotte Bobcats NBA team. And many of the people you see in the urban core aren't just there for the day, since the area also includes a sizable cluster of multifamily housing.

Credit: Roy Wiemann

Many of the residential options in uptown Charlotte consist of mid-rise buildings that incorporate ground-floor specialty retailers. Atlanta-based Post Properties and Houston-based Camden Residential Trust are the biggest property owners in this niche. While nearly all of Charlotte's urban housing initially consisted of rental apartments, condominiums are becoming increasingly popular. Fifth & Poplar, a 304-unit development that locally based Spectrum Properties built as apartments in 2003, went the condo route in the middle of 2005.

Among the firms building condos in Charlotte, Atlanta's Novare Group is quite busy. Avenue is a 36-story condo tower that the company is erecting in the middle of uptown. The project will feature 386 units offered at prices starting around $170,000. Later this year, Novare expects to begin construction on TWELVE, a boutique hotel property that will feature about 400 adjacent condos. Furthermore, the firm recently acquired two more uptown Charlotte development sites slated for condo construction.

Multifamily building has spread to Uptown's periphery, too. One pocket of development is in Dilworth, a primarily residential area just southeast of uptown. The newest entry here is Camden Dilworth, a 145-unit rental community opened this past spring. The project sits adjacent to 1315

East, which local developer Grubb Properties brought to market with 162 apartments a couple of years ago. The residences now are being converted to condos priced at $160,000 to $420,000.

The South End, across Interstate Highway 277 from the heart of uptown, is another growing area. Development is being sparked in part by next year's scheduled opening of Charlotte's first light-rail line, a 9.6-mile stretch between uptown and Interstate Highway 485 near Pineville. Certainly the most talked-about new multifamily project in the South End–or anywhere else in metro Charlotte–is The Arlington condo tower. At 24 stories, this property is the South End's tallest structure, but it's the vivid pink reflective glass exterior that makes The Arlington such a landmark. Locals have called it "The Pink Building" so incessantly that the nickname was adopted for use in the development's sales campaign. Units at The Arlington are priced at $220,000 to $360,000. Residential projects on the drawing board for the South End include an 11-story tower with about 310 apartments by the Hanover Co. out of Houston and twin 10-story towers–one for apartments and the other for condos–by Charlotte's own Crescent Resources.

The 96-unit 3030 South condo project was developed next to a future light-rail station south of the South End.

The 96-unit 3030 South condo project was developed next to a future light-rail station south of the South End.

Credit: Greg Willett

While the South End is already upscale in nature, there's still major rejuvenation work left to do a little farther down the South Boulevard corridor. Among the projects getting the ball rolling is 3030 South, a 96-unit condo project situated next to one of the soon-to-open light-rail stations. Built by locally based Heath Partners and brought to market this spring, the project features prices ranging from $144,000 to $286,000.