The Carlotte Observer – 3rd Ward Positively Changing

June 28, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Novare Group plans to start a massive redevelopment of a Third Ward block next month with a 27-story condo tower. Catalyst- a name the company says reflects the positive change occurring in Third Ward – will be at South Church Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. It’s the first building in a complex that will include an office tower and a condo-hotel on a block formerly occupied by Duke Energy’s old Power Building, which was razed.

Atlanta-based Novare has formed a joint venture with Charlotte’s Trinity Capital to start the second building early next year: a 15-story, 375,000-square-foot office tower. Tony Skillbeck, president of Novare’s Carolinas division, said the company specifically chose to be in Third Ward, which it sees as ripe for revitalization. The project would be next to a proposed public park that would be constructed as part of a yet-to-be finalized public-private land swap. The swap also could include a Charlotte Knights baseball stadium in Third Ward. Together, the two new towers would have about 40,000 square feet of ground-level shops and restaurants to serve residents, office tenants and visitors.

A third building- an estimated 39-story condo-hotel- is still in the planning process but also is likely to start early next year, Skillbeck said. A 1,100-space parking deck at First and Mint streets would serve the office building and condo tower and include some spaces for the condo-hotel.

Novare was one of the first condo developers to enter uptown’s high-rise market when it announced the 36-story Avenue at North Church and West Fifth streets in 2004. Today, about 20 residential towers have been proposed, started or completed there.

Skillbeck said the $100 million Catalyst will be similar to Avenue in amenities, interior finishes and prices. Avenue’s interiors include high-end cabinetry, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and balconies. Novare targets mainly 25- to 40-year-old buyers with a predominance of one-bedroom units and amenities packages that include a fitness center, a club room, a pool, an Internet cafe and concierge service. Catalyst will have 462 units, 65 percent of which will be one-bedroom condos of 650 to roughly 890 square feet, likely priced from the high $100,000s. One-bedroom units with a den and two-bedroom units ranging to 1,200 square feet are expected to start in the low $200,000s. Catalyst won’t have penthouses. Skillbeck expects general contractor Bovis Lend Lease to start construction by mid-July. Novare plans to begin selling Catalyst units in early 2008 and move owners into the tower starting in early 2009.

Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates designed both the residential tower and the office building. No contractor has been selected for the $75 million office structure- tentatively named 456 South Church. Trinity Capital’s Gary Chesson said he expect tenants to start occupying space there during the second quarter of 2009. The building is one of four announced or under construction in the center city, where office space is in short supply.

Trinity Partners, a Trinity Capital affiliate, will handle leasing and management of the office tower. Trinity Partners’ Peter Conway said lease rates haven’t been determined. Novare still plans one more Third Ward project- a 29- to 33-story condo tower- on the Packard Building site at Church and Third streets. Skillbeck said that building is still in use as offices, and there is no immediate plan to roceed with construction there.

Doug Smith: 704-358-5174;