The Real Deal New York

The DNC’s real estate side

September 04, 2012 05:30PM
By Zachary Kussin

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Charlotte, N.C.

Some of the GOP convention-goers who descended on Tampa last week took time to check out the local real estate, as The Real Deal told you. This week, it’s the Democrats who are gathering, and their host city is Charlotte, N.C. Here’s a primer on the real estate landscape of this Southern city.

• Over the past 30 years, Charlotte has transitioned from a textile city into the nation’s second biggest banking center behind New York. Bank of America is based in Charlotte, and Wells Fargo has a regional headquarters there. In recent decades, the city has gotten new skyscrapers and improved public transit, but challenges remain: Many of the roads are not built for the high traffic volume they receive, and racial tensions persist, the Atlantic’s Cities vertical reports.

• During the recession, many new commercial and developments were delayed. But things are looking up for Charlotte. Earlier this year, residential developers have announced plans to create over 8,130 units of housing, according to the Charlotte Observer. American and international companies have even snatched up a handful of trophy office properties, which sources say means investors feel confident in Charlotte’s economy.

• And Charlotte’s office market is doing much better than that of Tampa, where the Republicans held their 2012 convention. In the 12 months ending in the second quarter, the value of office transactions in Charlotte reached nearly $900 million, whereas in Tampa they totaled just over $300 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. Charlotte had an office vacancy rate of 16 percent, according to second-quarter figures, five percent below that of Tampa. Charlotte’s per-square-foot rents ticked in at $17.60 in the second quarter — compared to $16.94 in Tampa.

• The convention is a boon for city hotels, many of which are booked through Friday with convention-goers. Those hotels, however, do not have unionized workforces, since the state’s right-to-work laws make it harder for employees to organize. The lack of unionized labor has been a source of contention among labor groups, which have been big supporters of Democratic candidates in recent elections.

• As for the venue that is making the 2012 DNC possible, it omes at a cost to taxpayers: the Charlotte Convention Center reportedly costs taxpayers up to $30 million on an annual basis in construction debt.

• Should convention-goers from the New York scope out properties in Charlotte, they’ll find a relative bargain. While New York’s most expensive property, an 8,000-square-foot CitiSpire penthouse, is on the market for $100 million, Charlotte’s priciest home, which is more than twice as big, is listed for $7 million, according to Trulia.

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