September 2016

  • Sep
    26

West Elm launching hotel in South End

September 26, 2016

By Ely Portillo via Charlotte Observer

West Elm – the furniture store – is launching a hotel in Charlotte.

Part of a national launch of boutique hotels, the company is coming to the Design Center of the Carolinas, in South End on Camden Road. West Elm is also launching hotels in Savannah, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Detroit. They’ll open in late 2018.

The Charlotte hotel will include 150 rooms, a rooftop pool, meeting space, a restaurant, lounge and bar. A “community-inspired, locally sourced event” will be held at the hotel weekly, open to both local residents and hotel guests.

Ram Real Estate, which owns the Design Center, said the hotel will be new construction on the site. West Elm operates a furniture and home furnishings store nearby, in the Metropolitan complex.

“We’re excited that West Elm Hotel shares our vision for South End,” said Casey Cummings, Ram CEO, in a statement. “Our commitment to Charlotte has never been stronger and we look forward to collaborating with the entire West Elm team.”
The South End hotel will join a growing lineup of hotels under development outside of uptown but near center city. Kimpton is building a 128-room hotel on Worthington Avenue in Dilworth, and a 120-room hotel is planned at Kingston Avenue and South Tryon.

Opening a chain of hotels might seem like an odd move for a furniture seller. But West Elm said it’s interested in moving beyond furniture sales into a new market. The hotels will feature local design elements and cuisine, as well as locally commissioned artwork in each guest room and common areas. The furnishings and artwork will be available for guests to buy online as well.

West Elm said it was attracted to the warehouses, food trucks and local businesses in South End.

“After twenty-six consecutive quarters of double-digit comparative growth, including our successful entry into the commercial furnishings market with West Elm Workspace, we’ve created an active bond with our customers that can extend beyond home and work,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm, in a statement. “By adapting the framework design of each hotel to reflect the mood and identity of its host city, we will continue to engage the adventurous spirit of our customers as they follow us to our next level of hospitality.”

Brooklyn-based West Elm is partnering with hotel operator DDK, which oversees a portfolio of 70 properties, on the West Elm Hotels project.

“There is a growing desire among modern travelers to immerse themselves in the place they are visiting. They want a boutique experience, and expect great, reliable service that caters to their needs,” said David Bowd, co-founder of DDK. “Our general managers will serve as innkeepers, and West Elm Hotels will focus on making real community connections for visitors and residents alike.”

  • Sep
    22

Multifamily Forecast: Stormy or Calm Seas

September 22, 2016

via DBR

Florida’s multifamily developers are shrinking units, inflating amenities and maneuvering around traditionally accepted parking requirements to keep rents high and building costs down in today’s pricey construction market.

“Units will get smaller,” said William Hamilton, executive vice president of Boston-based Winthrop Management. “And they have to be sexy.”

The major players shaping Florida’s multifamily arena gathered Thursday to forecast what’s in store for the rental realm over the next year. About 700 attendees were expected at the fifth annual Florida Multifamily Summit in Hollywood.

With construction costs at an all-time high and thousands of apartments under construction in South Florida, Art Falcone said lenders are pulling back in response. He is CEO and chairman of the Falcone Group and a principal of Miami Worldcenter Associates, which is developing a sprawling mixed-use project in downtown Miami.

“I will tell you that capital providers have pulled back dramatically so, on the condo side, that is drying up very quickly,” he said.

But the spigot is not completely off. Coincidentally, Boca Raton-based Banyan Commercial Capital LLC on Thursday announced the closing of a $38.8 million construction loan for the 250-unit Aura Seaside on the Intracoastal Waterway at 1400 Dixie Highway in Lantana by a subsidiary of Dallas-based Trinsic Residential Group L.P. The loan came from a bank group led by TD Bank N.A.

Banyan principal Michael Brown said the challenge in securing the loan was the timing. “Most construction lenders have reached their multifamily quotas for the cycle,” he said in a news release.

The statewide rental market, however, shows no signs of overbuilding, said Casey Cummings, CEO of Palm Beach Gardens-based Ram Realty Services. Most of the homes are under development in response to demand. Overall occupancy rates, especially in South Florida downtown markets, now stand at 95 percent to 96 percent, Cummings said.

While occupancy rates prove apartment demand is strong, rental growth is expected to slow over the next year, he said. Rents could rise 2 percent to 3 percent rather than the 5 percent to 8 percent annual hike seen over the last couple of years.

Peaking rental rates have catalyzed vigorous investment in South Florida’s apartment communities. Investors have poured nearly $4 billion into Miami-Dade County’s multifamily market over the last 12 months.

“Only recently did apartments become the darling of institutional capital,” Cummings said. “It wasn’t like that 15 years ago. It was office buildings and shopping centers. It feels good to be in this spot.”

The buyer pool for completed apartment assets has shrunk, however. Cummings characterized the next year as a “light chop with eight knots out of the east” in response to the title of the panel, “Stormy Water or Calm Seas?”

Falcone said South Florida is considered a top-tier market around the world.

“We’ll continue to be the safety deposit box for the world,” he said.

  • Sep
    6

New apartments on North Davidson St. breaking ground in November

September 6, 2016

via The Charlotte Observer by Ely Portillo

A joint venture of two development firms plans to start construction in November on a new apartment building and mixed-use development planned at 27th and North Davidson streets.

Florida-based Ram Realty and Charlotte-based CitiSculpt are partnering on the project, which will include 250 apartments in a new, five-story building and the renovation of an existing commercial building on the site, currently home to Free Range Brewing.

The companies purchased the 3.6-acre parcel of land for $4.95 million, in a deal that closed this week, according to real estate records. Capstone Apartment Partners brokered the sale.

The developers plan to open the new development in 2018. The apartments will be located two blocks from the 25th Street Blue Line light rail extension station, which is scheduled to begin service next summer.

“Our goal is to build a unique and attractive community that complements the vibrant character of the neighborhood,” said David Klepser, Ram’s lead developer on the deal, in a statement. “We’re exploring distinguishing architectural styles, industrial-modern finishes, and ways to integrate the new development with the existing commercial building.”

The apartment building will include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and 2,000 square feet of retail space. Amenities at the project will include a pool, spa deck and a 24-hour gym. “The development’s primary draw is its location,” Ram said in a news release.

Interest in the area has “skyrocketed” since the Blue Line extension was announced, said Ram CEO Casey Cummings. There are now 1,573 new apartments under construction or planned along the Blue Line route between uptown and 36th Street, in neighborhoods including Villa Heights, Optimist Park and NoDa.

Ram and CitiSculpt both have developed other projects in Charlotte. Ram owns the Design Center of the Carolinas in South End and Rock Creek at Ballantyne Commons, and is a partner in Midtown 205, the apartment development at Kings Drive and Third Street. CitiSculpt, through its affiliate Southern Apartment Group, has developed or partnered on apartment projects in Dilworth, Mountain Island Lake, Ballantyne and West Morehead street.