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Landmark Building in the Southern Part of Heaven Gets New Owner

3 Jul 2015, 8:04 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

It’s the end of an era for one of the most architecturally distinct commercial buildings in Chapel Hill.

BCBSNC HQ in Chapel HillBlue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which ranks as the state’s largest health insurer, is planning to consolidate its operations to a group of office buildings in Durham.

As part of the transition, the company has reached an agreement to sell its iconic rhomboid-shaped headquarters building and campus at 1830 Chapel Hill Blvd. in Chapel Hill to the Raleigh-based State Employees Credit Union (SECU).

According to the Triangle Business Journal, the sale is expected to close later this fall for $35 million.

BCBSNC had earlier announced that in 2016 it would relocate from the headquarters to the Durham Campus. The decision was prompted by the fact that the company would save more by moving to the new offices than by retrofitting the four-story, 240,293-square-foot Chapel Hill structure to lower its operation costs.

According to Jim Blaine, president of SECU, the facility will help the company address two immediate goals: it will host a back-up disaster recovery center outside of Raleigh, since it includes a data center, back-up generators, and data communication lines, and it will also enable the relocation of the nearby Elliott Road branch. At the purchase, SECU plans to upgrade the 1973 property.

About 900 employees still work from the Chapel Hill office, which BCBSN will lease through the first half of 2016, until it completes the move.

“This is one of those ‘right place at the right time’ opportunities,” said BCBSNC president & CEO Brad Wilson. “This transaction involves two North Carolina companies and one very special property with a proud history.”

In recognition of its unique architecture, the Chapel Hill building featured in the New York Times Magazine, Time and Newsweek, and was also part of a design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Photo credits: BCBSNC

Multifamily Communities in Raleigh Attract Out-of-State Investor

1 Jul 2015, 9:58 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

A Los Angeles company has closed on its second multifamily acquisition in the Triangle region in the last year.

Lowe Enterprises Investors (LEI), in a joint venture with a foreign investment client, bought the Hamilton Ridge Apartments in Raleigh from an affiliate of Abacus Capital Group. According to the Triangle Business Journal, the property sold for $18.2 million.

Hamilton Ridge Apartments in Raleigh

Hamilton Ridge Apartments in Raleigh

Located at 4901 Tall Timber Drive in the Crabtree Valley area, the 178-unit community comprises 13 low-rise residential buildings, and is currently 98 percent occupied. It was built in 1986 and features a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments with washer/dryer, fireplace, patio or balcony, vaulted ceilings and large windows. Amenities include a stand-alone clubhouse with a business center, coffee bar, fitness center, community room, resort-style pool, outdoor grilling, picnic areas, a car care center and free Wi-Fi.

Greystar will manage Hamilton Ridge Apartments, which is ideal for young professionals, since it offers easy access to the area’s key employment centers of downtown Raleigh and Research Triangle Park.

John Gaghan led the investment team for LEI, while Hunt Mortgage arranged financing for the acquisition.

LEI now plans to upgrade the common areas, including the clubhouse and pool deck, modernize the kitchens and bathrooms, and improve the overall appearance of the units.

“Hamilton Ridge is exceptionally well located in a growing submarket of Raleigh. While well maintained, the current unit finishes offer an opportunity for LEI to make improvements that will enhance the value of the property and position it as an even more attractive residential option in this market,” said Bleecker P. Seaman, co-CEO of LEI.

Last fall, LEI also partnered with locally based Blue Ridge Realty to develop The Gramercy, a six-story, 203-unit apartment and retail building currently under construction at Glenwood Avenue and North Street in downtown Raleigh.

Photo credits: Abacus Capital Group

MetLife Celebrates Grand Opening of RTP Technology Hub, Meets Significant Hiring Goals

25 Jun 2015, 11:54 am

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Grand Opening of MetLife RTP Technology Hub in Cary

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (front row, third from left), MetLife CEO Steven A. Kandarian, and MetLife Global Technology & Operations EVP Marty Lippert cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of MetLife’s Global Technology campus in Cary, NC.

Good news for Cary: on June 22, MetLife held a ribbon cutting event for its new Weston Lakefront global technology campus in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina.

The new 26.5-acre Cary campus, which broke ground in 2013, consists of two seven-story, 213,500-square-foot office buildings overlooking a terrace fronting Lake Crabtree. It was developed by Highwoods Properties and designed by Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio of Atlanta and Studios Architecture of Washington, D.C.

The facility, which targets the highest LEED certification for environmental sustainability, also ranks as the least costly new administrative office space MetLife operates in the United States.

Back in March 2013, MetLife announced that the Cary campus, coupled with its new U.S. retail headquarters in Charlotte, would bring the company’s investment in North Carolina to $125.5 million and lead to the creation of 2,600 jobs by the end of 2015.

During the official event, the insurance giant’s chairman and CEO Steve Kandarian announced that MetLife has met its jobs and investment commitment to the state six months ahead of schedule.

This, according to the Triangle Business Journal, means that the company now qualifies for the $90 million economic development incentive package offered by the state more than two years ago in exchange of its decision to expand in the region. MetLife will receive these funds through the state’s Jobs Development Investment Grant program over the next 12 years.

“Our hiring has moved faster than we expected because of the rich talent pool and business friendly environment we have found in North Carolina,” Kandarian said in a news release. “We are more convinced than ever that we made the right decision in choosing Cary and Charlotte as hubs for our global technology and operations organization and U.S. retail business. We look forward to strengthening our ties to these communities and to the state as a whole in the years to come.”

Photo credits: MetLife


Dual-Branded Marriott Hotel Welcomes First Guests in Raleigh

25 Jun 2015, 11:37 am

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

With the economy looking up, Marriott International, Inc. has announced the opening of a dual-branded property in the attractive Raleigh-Durham Airport area.

Dual Branded Courtyard & Residence Inn in Raleigh, North Carolina

Dual Branded Courtyard & Residence Inn in Raleigh, North Carolina

The two hotels–a 128-room Courtyard and a 128-suite Residence Inn–are owned and managed by SREE Hotels of Charlotte, NC.

Located at 10600 Little Brier Creek Lane, the properties offer guests easy access to Brier Creek, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina State University, Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill.

The two five-story lodging facilities share an indoor saltwater pool, a fitness center, 3,500 square feet of meeting space for up to 250 people, along with a Courtyard’s Bistro that includes a full bar. Each brand also offers distinct amenities and services that cater to business travelers and tourists alike.

Courtyard by Marriott’s latest room design features flexible spaces that enable technology, including hybrid zones for working, sleeping, relaxing and getting ready. Guests here have access to the Refreshing Business lobby environment, suitable for pop-up meetings or social gatherings, or to the brand’s Bistro concept and business library.

The Residence Inn by Marriott offers a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom suites with complimentary breakfast. Designed for extended stays of at least five nights, each suite offers a fully-equipped kitchen with a coffeemaker, microwave oven and residential-sized appliances. Guests here may value their suite’s well-lit work desk, ergonomic chair and complimentary high-speed Internet access. Both road warriors and families will also enjoy the hotel’s grocery delivery service, 24-hour onsite food and beverage market, dry cleaning services, and access to the onsite guest laundry room.

Photo credits: Marriott International, Inc.

Dominium Realty, Prudential Open Rare Speculative Office Development in Downtown Raleigh

22 Jun 2015, 8:22 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Charter Square in RaleighCharter Square, an 11-story speculative office building at the south end of Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, has officially opened.

The development team, a joint venture between locally-based Dominion Realty Partners and equity partner Prudential Real Estate Investors, held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the project on June 17.

The event opened with a prayer that honored the lives of the three construction workers who died in a scaffolding collapse incident at the site in March. Also, three stars were added to the front entrance wall plaque on the tower in honor of these men.

According to the Triangle Business Journal, the $63 million high-rise could become the first privately-owned building in downtown Raleigh to achieve the LEED Platinum certification for energy efficiency.

So far, only two state-owned facilities in the city’s downtown area have achieved this level of certification: the N.C. DENR office building in 2013 and the Nature Research Center in 2014. For its interior commercial space, Cherokee Investment Partners also achieved platinum-level certification in 2007.

Construction on the 243,000-square-foot Charter Square tower began on a speculative basis in March 2014. The building is currently 56 percent leased, with law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice as its anchor tenant. The firm will occupy between 43,000 and 45,000 square feet. Other tenants include Dominion Realty Partners, which has already moved in on the second floor, HDR Engineers, CBRE-Raleigh, JDavis Architects, Intelligent Office and Industrious. In the coming months, Raleigh Yadkin Bank will occupy a portion of the building’s street-level retail space, while Raleigh-based Eschelon Experiences is planning to open a new restaurant here in 2016.

This project is rare for the Triangle, since very few speculative developments have opened in the region since 2008. DTZ Research, however, shows that office vacancy in the downtown Raleigh market is less that 8 percent, one of the lowest in the Trangle.

Photo credits: JDavis Architects

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