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SmellyCat

Shopping Bags on Tryon: return of uptown retail?

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Shopping Bags on Tryon

Dennis Marsoun, Columnist

It wasn't much, but it was something!

I actually saw shopping bags on Tryon Street over the Christmas Holiday. It struck me because of its oddity, but then again, it seemed perfectly appropriate. There was a chill in the air, and lights on the trees, and the storefronts that are here were all inviting.

All these sights invoked memories of a distant past of Christmas shopping on Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio. The major difference of course was the snow.

Critical mass, head count, roof tops, these are the things we hear all the time when it comes to bringing retail back into the Center City. And guess what, it's happening. All the new construction that has been announced will hasten the activity. Over 1000 additional housing units have been announced this year, and I predict that will triple in 2005.

Watching Johnson & Wales open to their first year students this past September, I noticed and interesting phenomena occur. Though it was well known for a few years that this would take place, it seemed to catch everyone off guard. Property values in the Gateway area increased about 20% just over the summer! And this is with only one year's worth of students. My prediction is that retail will return in 2006, when all of a sudden, seemingly overnight, we will have 12,000 people living downtown, and another 60,000 coming down every day to work. Someone will say "When did THIS happen?"

The first and second pioneer retailer to come down will get the best locations, and I predict that will be the corner of Fourth and Tryon. My person dream is for Saks to take over the CCB lobby for their location, and for Belk's to tear down and rebuild a store on the old Charter Bank site across the street. That site will connect to the Overstreet Mall, and indirectly to the light rail line through the old convention center site.

I believe that retail will extend in both directions down Fourth, going to Caldwell to the east and Mint Street to the west. It won't be a shopping mall, but it will be exciting, and profitable.

This move will spark the beginning of the reconstruction of the Second Ward, much as the Arena has sparked First Ward development, as well as that of the Third Ward.

This move will also encourage the major banks to reconsider the "best and highest" use of the land that their Uptown branches occupy. With the changes in banking to ATM usage and online banking, the grand large lobbies are becoming out of date. I would guess that the BofA branch in Founders Hall handles as many transactions as the main branch occupying the entire first floor of the BofA Plaza Building. With the connection to the Overstreet Mall and to the light rail system, it needs to change.

The Wachovia location at Second and College has a similar fate awaiting it.

Free market economics are the basic belief in America. Markets develop where the need exists. We all learned that in Economics 101. We watched as a residential market developed, and the current residential building boom is a reflection of the market calling out for supply. There is another market that is calling out, and that is the need for retail. What I have outlined is my vision. While my dreams are mine, and as many would argue, have no connection to reality, the signs are there of the beginning of the movement to retail. It will happen.

And when it does, there will be more shopping bags on Tryon Street.

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This is an interesting article and it could prove true. I still don't know if this vision will happen though in the face of current retail development uptown. Many people still view uptown as disconnected (or a separate retail market) from the neighborhoods outside of 277. However Elizabeth is RIGHT THERE! With Grubb's ambitious makeover I almost see Elizabeth Ave. and the surrounding neighborhood becoming the "retail district" of Charlotte's center city. In ten years I don't think we will separate Elizabeth or SouthEnd in our minds from Uptown, I think we will embrace them as part of uptown like the Wards are today and these two neighborhoods will be dominant in retail. Of course I'm no expert and this guy may be. Who knows, the only certain thing is that there is a strong demand for retail in that area right now. Retail will come soon and I guess we'll just have to wait and see where it lands when it arrives. Good read though, thanks for posting it Smelly.

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The days of large department stores in cbd's are gone. With the economy changing and recent issues with Saks leaving DT Minneapolis, I don't think the department store will return to Charlotte.

I do see lots of unique retail shopping returning to downtown to create the busle that Charlotte and so many other cities are after.

When Uptown Charlotte hits 15 to 20k residence one will be suprised at how much action will be on the streets of yalls city.

Another key area that is extremely important is for Charlotte to make lrt work. For that to happen there is going to have to be a lot of high density residential development occuring through the city. Hopefully it can pull a density of 4 to 6k people per square mile for a good 20 to 30 square mile. Then Charlotte will be booming and can claim its big city badge along with Seattle and Minneapolis.

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All very good points both ways. I do agree that only the super dense cities can support CBD malls, such as what we see on 5th Avenue in NYC and the Miracle Mile in Chicago. That formula probably won't work in Charlotte because of Southpark Mall, as monsoon alluded to.

However, there should be a market for niche retailers as the market densifies (new word). For example, once the Novarre Groups's condo tower gets built...we're talking more than 300 units which based on their price points will be mostly marketed to young professional types probably in their late 20s/early 30s. Many of these young people will not want to schlep to Southpark to buy clothes, electronics, Christmas gifts, etc. Based on their age brackets, I would assume many will be environmentally conscious...maybe even some won't own cars. Some will just want to save money on gas.

They will want to shop, eat, and play all within the confines of the inner loop, without having to get in their car. A decade away, perhaps, but still a very distinct possibility. Especially as more densely built residential units are developed.

I think the writer is a tad optimistic about the extent of the scope of the retail corridor, but there is a definite need. It will happen, the only question is how soon. I hope sooner!! Im dying for some more uptown retail.

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Here's something I bet no one here has seen before (including me). This would be located where the old Wachovia branch on N. Tryon was.....I think that's 9th and Tryon.

616rend.jpg

I can't decide if I love it or hate it, though I'm not sure this has any chance of becoming a reality.

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Partnership between FMW and The Blvd. Co.......the same team that did the Office Depot is SouthEnd......it's interesting that they took such strong design cues from the Presby church that is now the McColl Center.

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I was noticing the parts that look like the McColl center. According to this page

http://www.fmwrealestate.com/current.html it is 616 N Tryon and shows the current building.

616ntry.jpg

looks like it the same retail building design concept as the office depot in south end/south blvd with all the glass. I kind of don't like such a low rise on tryon, but urban activity is definitely preferable to vacancy and parking lots.

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Pop another 3 stories of apartments on top of it, redesign it so that it blends into the surroundings more (less glass, more stone), and you might have a winner.

As it is...yuck.

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Partnership between FMW and The Blvd. Co.......the same team that did the Office Depot is SouthEnd......it's interesting that they took such strong design cues from the Presby church that is now the McColl Center.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Is this a retail center??? If so, do we know when construction would start???

:huh:

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I don't think this will happen....at least not in it's current form.....though, I suppose if they found a retailer to take the space it could happen. The space looks like it would accomodate a Barnes and Noble nicely, with some additional retail in the rear.....just guessing, but this appears to be about 60,000 sq. ft. in size.

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I don't like the low-rise aspect but I like the design personally.

Don't you just love how in artist's renderings there is always about three times the amount of pedestrian activity going on. It is especially funny when you see a rendering for a suburban style building. There always seems to be so many people walking around.

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lol, that is true about the pedestrian activity... renderings also always have those vertical beams of light from the scrapers. Almost like they are cheering for the building in the foreground :).

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I spoke with someone at FMW.....they confirmed what I suspected. This is just one concept they had, and have made no decisions as to exactly what they will do on the site......still, I thought this rendering was interesting.

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