Proximity Park project turns back the clock

Proximity Park project turns back the clock

By next fall, one of University City’s oldest office buildings will look like its newest. With a redesign by global architectural firm Gensler, the former office of Allstate Insurance, at 401 McCullough Drive, will have completed its transformation to Proximity Park – the single biggest available suburban office building on the 19-mile LYNX light rail line. Work will start in the next few weeks on major improvements to the building and 32-acre campus, including a visually striking new entrance and two-story glass atrium, new energy efficient windows, extensive new landscaping and an outdoor meeting area. The building already underwent several months of interior demolition, which included removal of the old mechanical, electrical and HVAC systems. The redesigned building will have all new energy-efficient systems. When the remodeling is finished next August, Proximity Park will offer nearly 200,000 square feet of space for lease in like-new condition – with room for expansion – within a 10-minute walk to light rail and a 1-mile drive to I-85.   Potential corporate campus Colliers International, which is handling the building transformation and its marketing, hopes to find a single tenant for the building. The building also can be subdivided for up to three tenants. “Given the unique design of it and the large campus setting, we feel like Proximity Park will provide a unique opportunity for a company wanting its own branded building with easy expansion potential,” said Brad Grow, a partner in Colliers’ Charlotte office. The site can accommodate an additional 100,000 square feet of office space, plus structured parking for the additional employees. That building will have great curb appeal, Grow...

Your vote can help UNC Charlotte win Gold for going green!

With your vote, UNC Charlotte’s Jerry Richardson Stadium could win gold for going green, and we don’t mean the 49er colors. UNC Charlotte is one of four finalists in the “Large” category for the Charlotte Chamber-Wells Fargo Green Awards! Your vote could decide the victor. We really do want you to vote early and often – and by that we mean daily – at the competition website. The finalist that gets the most votes through Oct. 31 will win, but you can only vote once per day. The 2014 Wells Fargo Green Awards recognize member companies who have incorporated innovative, sustainable practices in the products they produce, the services they provide, and within the culture of their company. The “Large” Category is for businesses with more than 50 employees. Other finalists are Environmental Holdings Group LLC, Hyatt Place Charlotte Downtown and Ingersoll Rand Co. UNC Charlotte’s project – zero waste at Jerry Richardson Stadium UNC Charlotte hopes to win with its efforts for zero waste at the football stadium – a goal first proposed by students. Reaching that goal requires significant campus- and community-wide commitment, collaboration, creative thinking, and a comprehensive education plan. The result: 82 percent of the waste generated during six home games was recycled (6.92 tons) or made into compost (12.99 tons), and 286 gallons of fryer oil were converted to biofuel. UNC Charlotte proved during the Charlotte 49ers 2013 inaugural football season that a zero-waste facility is achievable, and that sharply reducing a stadium’s ecological footprint is socially and financially beneficial. How we can help UNC Charlotte win Go to the VOTE LINK every day...

Environmental Way wins green award and 2nd major tenant

The owners of the Environmental Way office building in University Research Park received two pieces of very good news recently. First, next-door neighbor TIAA-CREF signed a 10-year-lease of the full first floor. Second, the NC Chapter of the US Green Building Council just honored their ambitious efforts to turn an aging and long-vacant office building into a showcase of energy efficiency. “We are thrilled,” said Vickie Pennington-Bowles, who along with her husband, David Bowles, created Environmental Way four years ago out of the 70,000-sf 1980s building at 1000 Louis Rose Place. “We hoped they would see it as an example of taking an almost 30-year-old building and make it energy efficient.” The USGBC’s NC Chapter gives annual Sustainable Building Awards to honor architects, builders, owners and trades who created the state’s many LEED-certified buildings. Environmental Way received the Smooth Operator Award, which recognizes “excellence in operations and maintenance by honoring individuals or organizations that exemplify leadership in and commitment to operating buildings with environmental sensitivity, resource efficiency, and longevity.” Other finalists for the 2014 award included Childress Klein, which manages 7.8 million SF of offices across the state and employees 27 LEED-accredited professionals and “green” associates. The making of Environmental Way The couple bought the long-vacant office building partly to house their growing businesses, Environmental Services of Charlotte and EMCI Ltd., Electrical and Cabling Services. They also saw the chance to showcase their companies’ skills at helping clients lower costs through energy efficiency, while providing leasable office space for companies wanting those benefits. “One of the main reasons we went to all of this trouble to make the building...

In the Spotlight: Innovation Park

Rarely in the world of commercial real estate does revitalizing an aging property make a big enough splash to reshape an entire market. But Innovation Park is well on the way to doing exactly that inside University Research Park in northeast Charlotte. At 200 acres and 1.9 million square feet, “We thought it was large enough to be a game changer in the whole market,” said Chris Epstein of BECO South, which paid $41.6 million for the former IBM campus in 2010. After the purchase, Innovation Park leased a head-turning 500,000 square feet within 19 months to tenants ranging from Classic Graphics (179,775 square feet) to AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. (140,000 square feet). The first tenant, Classic Graphics, “was validation for us,” Epstein said, “but AXA (announced in March 2012) was the absolute validation.” That’s because the New York-based insurance giant was willing to share BECO’s vision, agreeing to move 26 miles north in May 2013 from a south Charlotte business park where it had operated since 1998. Epstein said the partners in Rockville, Md.-based BECO Management, a specialist in rehabilitating distressed properties, were impressed enough to pay cash after visiting the property for the first time in December 2009. They formed BECO South with Epstein at the helm to renovate buildings, add two decks to boost parking to 6,500 spaces, create tenant amenities and upgrade landscaping and signage. In the process, BECO took a different approach from previous owners of the 30-year-old IBM campus, naming it Innovation Park to embrace the computer icon’s innovative work and investing up front to attract tenants. So far BECO is investing...

Focus On: Environmental Way

The video screen in the lobby is the first hint to visitors that something is very different about Environmental Way in University Research Park. Owner David Bowles can monitor the performance of all the building’s systems on a wall-mounted “dashboard” displaying real time information on everything from indoor temperature to outdoor lighting. The 70,000-square-foot building, vacant for a decade before he bought it in 2009, is a poster child for green rehabilitation and sustainable development. Bowles, a mechanical and electrical contractor, uses his company’s 10,000-square-foot office space at Environmental Way to show potential tenants that going green won’t break the bank. He paid about $2.1 million for the former IBM building at 1000 Louis Rose and spent about $800,000 to rehab and upfit it during 2009 and 2010. His redevelopment team combined the 26-year-old structure’s existing equipment with new and more efficient chillers and boilers, tapped into wind and solar power and relied heavily on reclaimed and recycled materials. A thermal storage system, for example, makes ice in off-peak hours and stores it to circulate and cool the building during peak hours. Vintage wood retrieved from his wife Vickie Pennington’s five-generation homestead in eastern North Carolina went into interior finishes along with tree-bark wallpaper, milk- and clay-based paints and concrete-and-recycled-glass countertops. Used furniture and recycled carpet complete the space. Savings are enhanced by an on-grid rooftop photovoltaic system capable of producing excess electrical power that Bowles can sell back to Duke Energy. The U.S. Green Building Council has recognized Environmental Way by pre-certifying the building’s core and shell as platinum LEED level, its highest and hardest to achieve rating....

EPRI finds room to grow next door

One of University Research Park’s oldest residents continues to grow. EPRI has completed renovating and occupying the former Verbatim building next door – now officially EPRI Building No. 3. “They did a very good job of turning a big, empty factory into a really well-lighted and good looking office, lab and meeting facility,” says EPRI spokesman Jeremy Dreier. GLOBAL ENERGY INDUSTRY FINDS ANSWERS HERE The Electric Power Research Institute, a U.S.-based nonprofit company, serves the global energy industry from several key locations including the Charlotte facility on Harris Boulevard, where more than 200 people conduct research into improving power grids and preventing power-plant failures. EPRI Charlotte also hosts more than 2,000 visitors a year from across the globe. “We do research and development in a highly collaborative way, which means we bring a lot of people into the process,” Dreier said. Visitors come to help develop those improvements and to learn how to implement them. The EPRI Charlotte campus now includes 45 acres and three buildings totaling more than 300,000 square feet. The 107,000-square-foot “new” building was erected in 1984 by Verbatim to make floppy discs. Speed Channel occupies an adjacent building that was also part of the Verbatim complex. EPRI’s renovations include a 5,400-square-foot meeting area that can handle large groups or be subdivided into six smaller rooms. EPRI already has a full-service cafeteria for its visitors. “An advantage of hosting bigger meetings on your own campus is that it helps you manage costs, and makes it very convenient for EPRI people to go in and out of the meeting,” Dreier said. EPRI A KEY PART OF CHARLOTTE’S...