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McClatchy-Tribune  07/17/2014 5:05 PM ET
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) David Bracken column [The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) :: ]

July 17--RALEIGH -- Two key real estate projects on N.C. State University's Centennial Campus are moving forward, the latest sign that the research campus is evolving into both a residential community and meeting center.

Last week, university officials finalized details with a development group that plans to build a 155-room Marriott Hotel and conference center on a 10-acre site overlooking Lake Raleigh. Concord Eastridge and Noble Investment Group, which built the Marriott on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, have secured debt financing from BB&T for the project, said Michael Harwood, associate vice chancellor for the Centennial Campus Development Office.

"All that's remaining is to complete the design and perform the construction," Harwood said. He said construction of the hotel is likely to begin in the spring of 2015.

This week Raleigh-based White Oak Properties also restarted North Shore, the long-delayed townhome and condominium project on the northern edge of Lake Raleigh.

The initial phase of the project involves building a pool and pool house as well as 10 townhomes. White Oak plans to eventually build a total of 47 townhomes and 64 condominiums in the first phase, which will cover half of the project's 15-acre site. Initial prices range from the low $200,000s to $315,000.

The other half of the site has yet to be master planned. Roland Gammon, White Oak's owner, said the company will wait and see how sales go before deciding the specific product mix.

Targeting nonstudents

The North Shore restart has been a long time coming for the 33 homeowners who bought into the project before a debt dispute halted construction eight years ago. White Oak was chosen last year to take over the project after the university solicited proposals about how best to finish the project.

White Oak is betting that there will be plenty of demand for the units from the roughly 4,000 university employees and private-sector employees who work on Centennial. The project will add to the small but growing inventory of nonstudent housing available on campus.

In February, Capital Associates opened Greens at Centennial Campus, a 292-unit rental apartment complex targeting working professionals and nonstudents. Tom Huff, an associate partner with Capital Associates, said the complex leasing is ahead of schedule with nearly 50 percent of the units rented.

The Marriott hotel should only increase Centennial's attractiveness to private employers. The campus' list of tenants already includes the telecom company Bandwith, ABB, the Swiss engineering conglomerate, and LexisNexis.

Initial plans for the hotel call for 7,500 square feet of meeting space, although Harwood said he's optimistic that number will increase during the design phase as the developers gauge demand.

The hotel will be part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, a new brand that combines the feel of a boutique hotel with the rewards and reservation system of the Marriott chain.

Room to grow

Centennial has already seen a wave of new construction in recent years, including a new 1,200-student housing complex and the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. A 145,000-square-foot office building, Alliance One, is also now under construction and is expected to open in the first quarter of next year.

The 1,100-acre campus has more than 4 million square feet of total development today, and the university has approval to develop 9 million square feet. About one-third of that square footage is expected to be devoted to residential.

Future development plans include Town Center, a proposed project on the northeast shore of Lake Raleigh that would add 400,000 to 500,000 square feet of retail and residential space.

"We have a couple other opportunities we need to address before we can get to Town Center," Harwood said. "That might be six months out now."

But with the restart of North Shore and the securing of financing for the hotel project, the maturation of Centennial Campus is well on its way.

Bracken: 919-829-4548 or; Twitter: @brackendavid


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