New details out about Lennar's high-rise project in uptown; remainder of site under contract
By Ashley Fahey – Staff Writer, Charlotte Business Journal
Dec 13, 2017, 2:57pm EST
Amended from CBJ article -
Although it won't break ground until August 2018, Lennar Multifamily Communities is full-steam ahead on planning out its First Ward block in uptown Charlotte.
LMC, the multifamily division of homebuilder Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), acquired a block bounded by the Lynx Blue Line extension and Eighth, North College and East Ninth streets from Daniel Levine for $23 million in January. LMC, which keeps its East Coast headquarters in Charlotte, will build 549 apartments between a 33-story, 375-foot-tall high-rise and a six-story midrise building as well as about 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail along Market Street, fronting the Lynx Blue Line Extension slated to open in March.
Levine's plans for Market Street call for a multi-block road accessible by car but with the ability to be shut down for exclusive pedestrian use during certain events. LMC will build out Market Street on its block and, potentially, on Levine's land between Eighth and Seventh streets, though final agreements haven't yet been reached. For now, Market Street is expected to extend from Seventh to Ninth streets.
The vision for Market 42 — that's what LMC is calling the mixed-use project for now — is to develop something that could relate to First Ward Park, which Levine opened in late 2015, according to Jeff Harris, Carolinas division president of LMC. Activity has otherwise been largely stagnant on Levine-owned land in First Ward, where the developer has ambitious plans to create "an urban neighborhood."
Harris said LMC is excited about the North Tryon Vision & Implementation Plan, which also includes the Hal Marshall site and a two-block project that includes the uptown public library and Spirit Square. If all projects go according to plan and expected timeline, several areas on and around North Tryon will be in full development mode within the next couple of years.
Market 42 will follow the midrise/high-rise model seen elsewhere in uptown, including Northwood Ravin's project at Stonewall and Caldwell streets. An above-ground parking deck will be built in the center of the block, with residential and retail wrapping it on all sides. An outdoor area with a waterfall that Harris likened to Paley Park in New York is planned for the interior of the site. A vehicular drop-off area will be developed off of College Street, which Harris said could be used to enter the high-rise or the future development at the corner of College and Eighth streets.
That portion of the site, measuring a little less than half an acre, is under contract to be sold to a hotel group, Harris said. He declined to give specifics on the entity or plans but said the sale may close as early as January. If all goes according to plan, that project could rise at the same time as LMC's development, which might mean three cranes active on the site at once.
Demolition on the existing buildings, which include the most recent home of Goodyear Arts before it moved to Camp North End, will begin in early 2018, Harris said.
The 184 midrise units at Market 42, to be at a lower price point than the 365 high-rise apartments, are expected to appeal to younger renters whereas the high-rise property, which includes several floors of penthouse units at the top, could draw an older, more affluent demographic, including empty nesters.
"With us taking down an entire block, we needed a fair bit of density to justify the purchase price," Harris said. "By splitting it up into two really distinct products, we can attract different market segments."
LMC considered other schemes that included two or three high-rise buildings on the block but, ultimately, the model of building one midrise and one high-rise made the most sense, he said.
"We were trying to find a solution that didn’t require this huge leap of faith that we were going to get rents that were $1 more than anybody else is getting," Harris said. "By planning an above-grade, precast parking garage, which is very efficient, and then having a midrise product that has some wood-framing units ... we felt like the risk-reward tradeoff was reasonable."
The 20,000 square feet of retail is concentrated on the Market Street and Blue Line side of the property. No retail is initially planned along College Street because, Harris said, College is a three-lane, one-way artery primarily used to get cars out of downtown. However, retail may be added on that side eventually, he added.
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