May 2012

  • May
    22

140 West Franklin Celebrates Construction Milestone

May 22, 2012

Chapel Hill, N.C. – Ram Realty Services recently hosted homeowners and invited guests to a celebration of the topping out of 140 West Franklin. The event marked the culmination of upward construction of the 140 West Franklin mixed use development. When completed, 140 West Franklin will feature exciting retail and restaurant offerings in addition to 140 luxury condominium homes. 140 West Franklin features four stories along Franklin Street before stepping back to rise to eight stories at the center of the site. Parking is provided in an underground structure. The two construction cranes, one 160 feet and the other 200 feet tall, are active daily on site as progress continues. More that 60% of the signature homes have been sold.

“It is an absolute joy to celebrate this milestone,” said Peter Cummings, chairman of Ram Realty Services. “In today’s economic climate, to be celebrating a successful residential and commercial development is a testament to the strength of the project and the appeal of Chapel Hill. As we top out the vertical construction of 140 West Franklin, we signal to the community that as one phase ends, a new phase of construction is beginning. One that leads directly to our next big celebration – our Grand Opening – where we will welcome our homeowners, and our new community of restaurants and shops, into their new home.”

140 West Franklin, with an approximate cost of $55 million and financing from Wells Fargo, is being built by Ram as the focal point of the Town of Chapel Hill’s Downtown Economic Development Initiative. The Town of Chapel Hill has created a dedicated web page for 140 West information at www.townofchapelhill.org/140west.

  • May
    15

Whole Foods breaks ground in Detroit with emphasis on community, collaboration

May 15, 2012

By John Gallagher, via Detroit Free Press

This morning’s groundbreaking of the Whole Foods grocery in Detroit’s Midtown district represented more than turning a few shovels of dirt. It also marked an opportunity to forge closer ties between a major corporation and the community it hopes to serve, Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb told community and civic leaders this morning.

Meeting with a Whole Foods community advisory panel prior to the 9:45 a.m. groundbreaking, Robb said Whole Foods hopes to nurture local food suppliers whose products will appear on Whole Foods shelves, as well as take a role in educating the community on healthy eating.

“We’re really excited to be here,” Robb said. “I promise you we’re going to be here with humility. We’re going to need your help.”

The groundbreaking, featuring Mayor Dave Bing, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and other leaders, drew more than 200 well-wishers and capped a nearly two-and-a-half-year process in which Whole Foods examined whether it should open one of its upscale groceries in a distressed urban market like Detroit. The decision marks Whole Foods’ first venture into such a market after already operating more than 300 stores in three nations, including some in Detroit’s suburbs.

Several other cities, including Chicago, have now asked Whole Foods to open stores in their communities following the Detroit example, Robb said. But he said he was happy that Detroit was first.

“The richness that we discovered here was very encouraging,” Robb said. “That’s special for me.”

And to the question of whether Whole Foods could be profitable in an urban market like Detroit, he said, “My expectation is a healthy, successful store.”

The 21,000-square-foot Whole Foods will be located on the north side of Mack between Woodward and John R. Construction will take about a year and the store should open in early 2013. The store will employ about 75 workers.

Bing called the groundbreaking a wonderful day in the city.

“Too often we focus on the negative things that are happening in our city. Today is a positive reckoning that there are people who believe in the city of Detroit and its resurgence,” Bing said.

Some of the people who put together the complex financial deal to bring Whole Foods to the city emphasized how difficult it remains to do real estate development when traditional lenders will not invest in the city. Building Whole Foods in Midtown required a layering of a half-dozen different sources of untraditional finance, including multiple tax credits.

“To do a project like this is a really complicated transaction that requires a lot of people and a lot of time and really hard work,” said Sue Mosey, president of the nonprofit group Midtown Detroit Inc., who helped bring in Whole Foods.

Peter Cummings, chairman of RAM Realty Services, the owner and developer of the Whole Foods site, noted that his firm had owned the site for 16 years before drawing a major development.

“We’ve owned it a long time, but I can safely say today it was worth the wait,” Cummings told the audience.

The Whole Foods arrival did not come without controversy. Independent grocers in Detroit have complained that major national retailers like Whole Foods and Meijer are coming thanks to generous tax breaks that aren’t available to existing grocers.

Eric Younan, a spokesman for the Detroit Independent Grocers, an affiliate of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, said there are 83 full-service groceries in the city already. He defined “full service” as a store with at least 10,000 square feet of space and at least four departments: meat, dairy, produce and frozen foods.

“Detroit independent grocers welcome competition. We just want a level playing field,” Younan said Monday. “We’ve been committed to serving Detroit for more than 30 years. We’re loyal to the city. We just don’t feel that loyalty is being reciprocated.”

Noting that some existing local grocers have criticized the opening of a major corporate grocery chain in Midtown, Robb asked for understanding.

“Can we get past the stereotype of corporation comes to a community?” he said. “I really love this community. Can you take us at our word that that’s what we’re trying to do?”

  • May
    10

“Highest Design” Water Tower Art Contest Names Winning Artist and Awards Billingsville Elementary $5,000 in School Supplies

May 10, 2012

The Design Center of the Carolinas unveiled the winning work of art in its 3rd annual “Highest Design” Water Tower Art Contest, sponsored by Ram Realty Services, at a special Design Center event on May 2nd. With more than 17,000 votes cast for 36 works of art, Jeff Thomas and his original work “I Am/We Are” garnered nearly 5,000 votes to capture the prize.

Jeff was presented with a $1,000 check by Ivy Greaner, Chief Operating Officer, Ram Realty Services. Thomas said about his inspiration for the winning piece, “As artists, everything we create is part life experience and part environment, the product of countless decisions and choices, little and big. All of them influenced in one way or another by where we are and what surrounds us. Yet as we choose where we rest our heads, we become a part of our surroundings. A part of the influence. A part of the inspiration.”

Carolina Pad is generously donating $5,000 in school supplies to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School, Billingsville Elementary, that Jeff championed. Principal Arlene Harris was on hand to accept a certificate from Carolina Pad for the school supplies. The supplies will be delivered at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

Local artists competed online for votes to win the chance for his or her work to be displayed on the highest canvas in the city, a 125’ water tower. “I Am/We Are” will be replicated onto a large horizontal vinyl canvas and installed on the Design Center water tower in place of the 2011 artwork, “Jane’s Dancing Addiction,” created by Ashley Plyer, last year’s winner.

“We are excited about the momentum the Highest Design Contest continues to build every year. The community support has been wonderful. We are honored to showcase Jeff’s work on the water tower as the winner of 2012. Jeff and his wife are recent transplants to the South End and have embraced their new community with heart and soul,” said Ivy Greaner, Chief Operating Officer, Ram Realty Services.

About the Design Center

The Design Center of the Carolinas is ideally located between Camden Road, West Tremont and Worthington Avenues in the Historic South End of Charlotte, NC, along the LYNX Light Rail at East/West Blvd. A signature example of adaptive reuse of historic buildings, DCC is comprised of three distinct buildings featuring exposed brick, expansive windows and compelling architectural details, giving a vintage vibe to contemporary workspace. Its trademark water tower is also a landmark of Historic South End and a symbol of its urban redevelopment. This unique workspace is designed to bring life to a progressive mix of showrooms, studios, offices and event spaces, resulting in a one-of-a-kind gathering place for creativity and forward-thinking businesses. For more information, please visit www.designcentercarolinas.com or contact Meredith Dickerson at (704) 971-6517 or meredith.dickerson@cbcmeca.com regarding leasing opportunities.

About Carolina Pad

Carolina Pad™ is a leading supplier of fashion school, office and organizational products. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, with offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Carolina Pad is one of the fastest growing stationery companies in the world. Its school, office, and arts and crafts products can be found at mass merchant, office supply, grocery, and drug stores. The Carolina Pad™ portfolio of brands include Studio C™, Note2Self™, Ghostline®, Notebound®, Sasquatch™, and u:create™. Learn more about Carolina Pad at www.carolinapad.com.