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Archive for November 1st, 2009

Taylor Batten Boosts Lassiter

Time for a fluid-level check on the Dilworth-Uptown bubble. Yep, sure enough, Anthony Foxx’s ascendancy to the mayorship is threatened by greedy developers and their shill, John Lassiter. Only Foxx stands ready to protect Charlotte’s quality of life from bulldozers.

Translated, Foxx is more likely to support maximum control of development by city staff. Lassiter will oppose city staff only to the extent developers balk at staff requirements. For both pols public subsidies of projects deemed worthy by staff are completely justified, although it is possible Foxx would be more willing to swallow any projection made by staff, consultants, and developers.

I get a couple takeaways from this. One, the official Uptown paper storyline should Foxx lose will be that developers, a small turnout, and insufficient early voting spots conspired to give Lassiter an illegitimate win. Two, Batten and crew have no conception of how unenthusiastic many local GOPers are about Lassiter’s campaign and the thought of him in office. Otherwise, Batten would not have penned a piece attempting to push Lassiter to the right on local development issues. Three, the myth of the independent voter and Pat McCrory’s approval rating as somehow key to Tuesday’s mayoral outcome. Had McCrory not lost the county to Bev Perdue I might see the logic in ascribing the be-all and end-all to where his supporters land.

In reality, the primary, deciding factor remains turning out your base to vote. Foxx may have assumed too much of a positive Obama effect would carry over and drive his turnout, although Democrat Party cash will work overtime to fix that. Lassiter, while not exactly running as a conservative, has campaigned as consistently and competently middle-of-the-road, without any howling gaffes along the way.

Now comes Taylor Batten to tell his readers that Anthony Foxx will rubber-stamp any wild scheme city gnomes cook up. A Mayor-elect Lassiter’s first task should be a thank-you note.

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Catalyst Goes Fully Non-Condo

Back in February we told you this was coming. The 27-story, 462 unit Catalyst tower has flipped from condos to apartments. In addition original developer Novare Group has been edged out, replaced by Crosland and Lehman Bros., according to The Charlotte Business Journal.

Other fascinating little tidbits:

  • Looks like only 30 of the units were ever under contract as condos, not the 60 units claimed back in February. Nothing like getting your sales data 100% wrong when doing spec development.
  • Starting rents have already crept down to $1050 a month from $1200, a 12.5 percent drop in eight months. You know they want to hang onto the four-figure price point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some “introductory” rents hit $900 in the next few months.
  • Anyway you look at it, Uptown now has nearly a 10-year supply of condos sitting empty or about to come online. The pressure to convert at least some of those to apartments will be tremendous, otherwise lenders cannot get repaid. More apartments means more downward pressure on rents, however.

Of course the ultimate driver of Uptown residential real estate — in any form — is Uptown jobs. Until there is some indication that thousands of high-paying jobs will be added to the Uptown office towers the fundamentals will continue to worsen.

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The Coming Commercial Real Estate Crash

Don’t forget about this wave that is still building. Wilbur Ross, CEO of major real estate player WL Ross & Co., tells Bloomberg Radio that a “huge crash in commercial real estate” lies ahead:

“All of the components of real estate value are going in the wrong direction simultaneously,” said Ross… “Occupancy rates are going down. Rent rates are going down and the capitalization rate — the return that investors are demanding to buy a property — are going up.”

Awesome time for the city of Charlotte to have put millions in public dollars into the Wachovia Wells Duke art tower and the NASCAR office tower, huh?

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Union County Must Hate Their Kids

Says here that the vast majority of Union County public schools are 1200 students and below, with only one — Porter Ridge — above 1500. Yet according to the great East Meck student enrollment fracas, the school will dry up and blow away should enrollment in it dip towards 1500.

As ever, the truth and CMS are not quite in sync.

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