Execs behind Waverly development on first of two office buildings, what sets this project apart

hub-groundbreaking-cbj-1024x480

Ashley Fahey
Staff Writer
Charlotte Business Journal

Childress Klein office division partner Paul Devine classifies Waverly as “suburban with a lowercase ‘S’ and a capital ‘U.’”

“From the moment you drive onto the property, park and get out of your car, there needs to be a sense of invitation,” Devine said. “From the parking deck and the things you’ve thought about and, really, the pedestrian experience once you park — it is all about invitation.”

Childress Klein and Crosland Southeast are partners on a project transforming a 90-acre plot of land at the intersection of Providence and Ardrey Kell roads in south Charlotte. When built out, Waverly will contain 250,000 square feet of retail (anchored by Whole Foods Market); 300,000 square feet of office space across two buildings; 60,000 square feet of medical office space (anchored by Novant Health); a 141-room Hilton Garden Inn; 150 single-family homes and townhouses by David Weekley Homes; and a 375-unit apartment community, Solis Waverly.

Several portions of the project are under construction or completed. Most recently, the partners started on the first of two office buildings. The first one, called The Hub, is a six-story, 154,000-square-foot building that will anchor the eastern end of Waverly, accessible to the planned 840-space parking garage and steps away from the development’s retail, eateries and homes.

The idea was to stagger office development until the retail program was well underway — striking tenant deals with Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM) and a mix of restaurants can then be marketed as amenities for prospective office tenants.

“We had studies done that (looked at) how this particular tract of this area might be one of the most sought-after or potentially amenity-rich sites in the state,” said Peter B. Pappas, managing partner of Crosland Southeast. “When you think about mixed- or multi-use, often for office, you’re saying, ‘What amenities can you deliver for me?’”

Waverly office leasing is anticipated to be boosted by the tenants that have already signed on at the development, including restaurateur Auguste Conte’s latest culinary venture Via Roma, fast-casual chains like Panera Bread and Chuy’s, and service-based retail tenants.

Conversely, retailers are seeing the appeal of having office buildings in walking distance to their storefronts.

“In the old days, (a second anchor) might have been another store or a movie theater,” Pappas said. “In this case, it’s the office building, and the retail tenants love it because there are potentially 800 to 1,000 folks in that building. It’s an opportunity to boost the daytime population.”

Master-planning Waverly was driven by three stakeholders: residents living in the immediate vicinity of Waverly, uses missing from or lacking in the submarket, and what aesthetics and amenities companies are most attracted to when looking at corporate real estate. Principals at both firms traveled nationally to evaluate what methods of configuration, parking, mixture of uses and architecture achieved the most success at mixed-use projects in bigger markets.

The Hub is intended to pull in a wide gamut of office tenants — and, to be competitive, Devine says, it has to have an aesthetic and accessibility that millennial-focused companies now require in office space. The building, designed by RJT+R, will have a lobby that evokes the feeling of a boutique hotel, Devine says. The Hub is expected to be LEED-certified, with the building’s architectural precast, exposed ceilings and flexible floor plates viewed as key selling points. Travis Hart and Jenny Fowler at Childress Klein are marketing The Hub.

“The tenant mix will be diverse,” Devine said. “It will be corporate America, it’ll be folks that own their own businesses, it’ll be startups; there will hopefully be a smattering of folks that aren’t in Charlotte already.”

Waverly is attempting to achieve urban living and working in a suburban part of Charlotte, a trend expected to pick up as millennials age up and seek lower cost-of-living areas in close proximity to good schools without giving up the pedestrian-friendly aspects of living downtown.

Beyond much-talked-about millennials, though, the rapid pace of growth in the Queen City is requiring a more diverse inventory of commercial real estate.

“Charlotte is maturing as a market,” Devine said. “Charlotte needs to (offer) choices if we’re going to continue to grow, attract the best corporations, the best jobs to the area — and, really, keep the jobs, decision-makers and job creators here.”

General contractor Shelco is expected to deliver The Hub in May.

Read the original article in the Charlotte Business Journal.