CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NBC Charlotte has learned that five parcels of city-owned prime real estate in uptown are starting to get the interest of developers after sitting barren for five years.
In 2008, city planners spent $21 million in taxpayer money, including $5 million from the state, to redesign the I-277 interchange at South Boulevard, in front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The new footprint created the remaining five large parcels of land, 12 acres total, estimated to be worth $60 million in 2008.
The sale of the land would also serve as collateral to help secure bank loans to pay for the NASCAR facility. At the time, several developers committed to the parcels, but quickly backed out after a nationwide economic downturn.
“The economic times really put a dent and a ding in this,” said Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble.
In the years following interested developers were few and far between, and the total value of the five parcels dropped to $40 million, Kimble estimates. But in the last six months, he says interest in the properties is picking up.
“We're getting nibbles, we're getting active interest.”
Parcel 5, a plot of land at the corner of Stonewall Street & McDowell Street, is under contract with plans to close the deal in May.
Kimble says the developer plans to build a 5-story, 210-unit apartment complex on the land.
Despite the slow start, Kimble says the city’s long term goal for the parcels remains the same.
“Our goal is not only make sure we get a good price for these parcels, but we also get the vertical development, the urban development, the mixed use development that's gonna be good for our city for the next 50 years."
Both civic and business leaders mention multi-use developments as priorities for the area. Such a project could potentially have office space, a hotel, apartments, restaurants, and retail space all in one building. Hospitality leaders say uptown is especially lacking in retail space.
“Conventioneers and tourists that come to meetings, that have down time, they want something to do. Bars and restaurants, yeah. But a lot of them want to go shopping,” said Sid Smith with the Charlotte-Area Hotel Association.
Kimble says the city is in early talks with a developer to build a 25-30 story multi-use project on two of the large parcels across from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“Tall buildings, integrated within a common structure; with parking, ground floor retail, office, apartments, and potential hotel in the mix,” he said.
Kimble warned the deal may not come to fruition, and if it does, could be a few years away. He said the city’s willing to wait.
“We remain very confident that these parcels will sell for a great price, and will produce great development for our community.”