Senior Staff Writer
Charlotte Business Journal
A $200 million multi-use development is in the works for one of Charlotte’s premier undeveloped sites.
Childress Klein Properties and Crosland Southeast are planning the project for 90 acres at the intersection of Providence and Ardrey Kell roads, across from the Rea Village shopping center in south Charlotte.
The as-yet-unnamed master-planned project would include up to 250,000 square feet of retail anchored by a grocery store, two five- to six-story office buildings, two two-story medical office buildings, two one-level parking decks, 180 single-family houses and townhomes and 375 apartment units.
The teams at Childress Klein and Crosland Southeast have developed a number of well-known projects in the area. The principals of Crosland Southeast developed Blakeney, Stonecrest and Rea Village, while Childress Klein developed the Arboretum, Promenade on Providence, and Plantation Market retail developments.
The project site is on the east side of Providence Road, just south of Interstate 485. Most of the triangular tract, about 85 acres, is owned by members of the Matthews family, who refer to it as the Matthews Family Farm.
“It’s a tremendous piece of property that has quietly been in play for the better part of seven years,” says Chris Thomas, a partner at Childress Klein.
A 3.6-acre adjacent parcel with two single-family houses is also under contract to the partnership.
About a year ago, the two firms realized they were both pursuing the Matthews property, which the family had begun shopping to regional and national development players. The firms’ partners are friendly competitors and had worked together on The Shoppes at Highland Creek shopping center in the early 2000s. With the variety of uses planned for the site and the complementary skills between the two companies, a partnership made sense, executives say.
“We put ourselves in the best position to be selected by the Matthews family by joining our forces,” says Peter B. Pappas, a partner at Crosland Southeast. “The level of trust and respect (between the firms) makes it a lot easier. When the right opportunity presented itself, it was very easy to say we should joint venture this.”
The strategy worked, and the Matthews family selected the two firms. Certain members of the Matthews family will maintain an interest in the project, Pappas says.
“The family believes these folks are the most capable people for the job, based on the portfolio of great projects they’ve developed,” Frank Matthews said in a statement. “We liked that they are private local companies who won’t cut corners and will be invested with us in the long-term value of the property.”
Thomas B. “Skeet” Harris, president of T.B. Harris Jr. & Associates, represents the Matthews family. He says interest in the land was high, with several “very good, very capable offers.”
Childress Klein and Crosland Southeast have filed a rezoning application for the property with the city and expect to have a public hearing in October. If the rezoning is successful, the firms would close on the acquisition of the land in the spring and begin construction next summer.
The proposed rezoning to two mixed-use districts would allow up to 590,000 square feet of commercial space, as many as 645 total residential dwelling units and up to 150 hotel rooms.
The developers plan to extend Ardrey Kell Road into the site, a key component of the required infrastructure for the project. They also plan to add a traffic light at the intersection of Golf Links Drive and Providence Road for another access point into the property.
Executives at the two firms say their vision is for a walkable development that stays active throughout the week with residents, office workers and retail consumers. Plans include 90,000 square feet of restaurant and retail shop space along the project’s main street that surrounds a public plaza area with outdoor dining.
The developers say the one-level parking decks, similar to those at Birkdale Village, will help promote walkability along planned “traffic-calming measures” along the main street such as parallel parking and medians.
The bulk of the retail on the site will be between Golf Links Drive and Ardrey Kell Road. Harris Teeter anchors the Rea Village shopping center across the street from the site, but Publix has said it is “aggressively” looking for locations in North Carolina. Executives decline to discuss prospects for the grocery space, but Pappas says the timing is right for new development across all the proposed phases of the development.
Plans call for the two office buildings in the center of the property, next to one-level decks wrapped by townhomes and retail. The apartments would be on the back of the property. The single-family residences would be behind the Waltonwood Providence senior-living facility, which is under construction at the intersection of Providence Road and Providence Country Club Drive. Singh Development acquired 13.3 acres for that project from members of the Matthews family last year for $3.5 million.
The two medical office buildings planned by Childress Klein and Crosland Southeast would be adjacent to the Waltonwood Providence facility.
The office buildings will be marketed toward midsized Fortune 1000 corporations. Paul Devine, a partner at Childress Klein, says the project offers an opportunity for a different kind of suburban office product.
“You drive out into suburban Charlotte and look at even recent, successful examples of suburban office and what do you see during the day? You see parking fields,” he says. “You don’t see a lot of human activity. What the highly educated younger workers are craving is really a work style. They want to see activity. They want to be part of something. This really offers that.”
The firms are negotiating with a homebuilder for the single-family piece and expect townhomes would be priced in the low to mid-$300,000s, while detached single-family properties would start in the low to mid-$400,000s. The firms also have had interest from several multifamily developers for the apartment piece.
The new project will be smaller than the Arboretum or Blakeney. Executives say because it is multi-use as opposed to a vertically integrated mixed-use project, it’s easier for lenders to appraise and underwrite each component.
“I think it’s fair to say the banks are back in the construction lending game,” says David Haggart, a partner at Childress Klein.
After completion of the project’s infrastructure work, which will take 12 to 15 months, construction will begin on some component of each product type, executives say.
“There’s just so much potential there,” Pappas says. “It’s a great canvas to have the privilege to work on. We both appreciate greatly the family’s vote of confidence.”