Thu, 24 July 2008
Jul. 23, 2008
Fall could be a catalyst for new condo's success so w rites Doug Smith of The Charlotte Observer
The Catalyst has already sold 58 of its 462 units. And the developer is pleased.
A rendering of the Catalyst condo tower under construction on
The Uptown condo market has suffered setbacks over the past few months, but that apparently isn't scaring buyers away.
The Catalyst, a 27-story tower under construction on
It does have a ways to go – the project includes 462 residences priced from the $180,000s to more than $300,000 – but given the season and the economic climate,
“Fall is always a good time in uptown
Condo developers are selling in the face of some of the worst news the uptown housing market has seen since the center city high-rise boom began about four years ago. Two towers are postponed, one is in foreclosure and another is stalled by a legal dispute.
Developers are reluctant to try new high-rise projects, as lenders aren't interested in financing them until the economy improves.
Yet “inventory is line with a healthy market,” said multifamily analyst Emma Littlejohn of the Littlejohn Group. “The problem is with delivery.”
Littlejohn said about 1,200 high-rise and mid-rise units are under construction or in the pre-sale stage in the center city, and more than half of those are under contract for sale.
With four major projects now in doubt, Littlejohn said, a bigger issue for the center city could be a potential undersupply of high-rise condos.
She wasn't surprised to see an initial surge in demand at Catalyst. “People are out there on the sidelines,” she said. “They still need a place to live.”
Field said buyers today are less impulsive and more likely to secure financing before making an offer.
Catalyst, unlike most condo projects, was started without a pre-sales campaign and is expected to open early next year.
“It gives people more confidence to know they don't have to wait two years,” Field said.
Novare targets 25- to 40-year-old buyers with a predominance of one-bedroom units and amenities packages that include a fitness center, a club room, a pool, an Internet cafe and concierge service. About 65 percent of Catalyst's condos are one bedroom.
A good mix of one- and two-bedroom units have sold, Field said, with the project being typical for a high-rise: “The most expensive and least expensive tend to sell right away.”
Catalyst (catalystcharlotte.com) will overlook a planned uptown park, and that was a lure for many of the initial buyers, Field said.
Also a factor: gas prices. “Many of the people who come in are asking where the light-rail stop is in relation to the project,” she said.