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Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Townhomes on the rise in Charlotte

Townhouses under construction in the Charlotte area.
Erin Keever / WFAE
Townhouses under construction in the Charlotte area.

There’s a big, new housing trend in Charlotte. The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter reports the number of permits for new townhomes surpassed the number of permits for single-family homes last year for the first time ever. Joining me now to talk more about this, and other local business stories, is The Ledger’s Tony Mecia for our segment BizWorthy.

Marshall Terry: OK, Tony. You also report since 2020, the number of permits for townhomes has nearly doubled while the number of single-family permits has dropped by a third. This is a really big shift. So what did the raw numbers look like, and what's behind them?

Tony Mecia: The numbers show for Mecklenburg County that the number of single-family homes between 2020 and 2023 dropped from about 5,000 to 3,500 last year. While, at the same time, townhomes went from 1,800 to a little over 3,500 last year.

The developers and builders that I talked to said that a lot of it has to do with available land. There just isn't that much of it in Mecklenburg County left where you can develop large numbers of single-family homes. Traditionally, you've had big national home builders like Lennar and D.R. Horton build these subdivisions with hundreds of homes. The land just isn't there to build single-family homes on that scale anymore, they say. Although in some of the outlying counties around Mecklenburg, there is still available space.

Terry: Well, despite there just not being as much land left for single-family homes, is there still demand for them?

Mecia: Looking at the numbers, Marshall, it does seem to indicate that there is still pretty strong demand for single-family homes. The price of a median home in Charlotte was $457,000 last month. That's up 3% from a year earlier.

I talked to Jon Grabowski, the CEO of Red Cedar Homes. He said they used to build 80% single-family homes, 20% townhomes. Now it's about 50-50. And he said if you look at a five-acre piece of land, they could build either say 12 single-family homes at $500,000 or more each, but they could build 36 townhomes on that same piece of land for $350,000 each. They're able to build more homes at a lower price point for buyers.

Terry: Well, on to some hospital news now. You report Novant Health has ended its efforts to buy two Iredell County hospitals. So, what were they hoping to do? And why did it not work out?

Mecia: Novant was hoping to spend $320 million to buy Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville and Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville. But the Federal Trade Commission sued and said it would be bad for consumers and it could drive up prices.

Novant was hoping to be able to use some of the strengths of combining with those hospitals to take on its main competitor, Atrium, which is building a hospital in Cornelius. But this week, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission, and Novant said they're just backing out of the deal.

I would think Atrium would be pretty happy about this because now they are facing competitors in Iredell County that don't have the backing of a bigger company like Novant. At the time that they're building this hospital in Cornelius, I would think it is an advantage for Atrium.

Terry: Finally, summer is the season for music and arts festivals. And The Ledger this week looked at how it's getting more expensive for organizers to put them on. Just how much more expensive?

Mecia: Marshall, we talked to organizers of cultural events and they say that the prices of things like tables and chairs and tents and security and venues have really shot up in the last few years. Those prices, in many cases, have more than doubled. And, so, it's causing some of these organizers to cut back on what they're offering.

For example, Tosco Music said it's cutting back the Tosco Music Party this fall. We talked to Boom Charlotte, which puts on an annual arts festival — and a lot of these organizations are not able to expand the events the way they want to. Or, in some cases, (have) cut back because of these rising costs.

Support for WFAE's BizWorthy comes from The Original Mattress Factory and our listeners.

Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.