BizWorthy: Medical Office Developer Buys Large Swath Of Homes In Dilworth

Dec 12, 2019

A huge swath of homes in Dilworth is being sold to a medical affiliated company. The Charlotte Ledger business newsletter reports the homes, about two dozen, all are in an area adjacent to Atrium where the hospital already owns 25 homes. Atrium earlier this year announced plans to expand its presence in the neighborhood. 

For more on this and other business news, "Morning Edition" host Marshall Terry is joined by Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger business newsletter for our segment BizWorthy.

Terry: Tony, as I said, Atrium does want to expand in this area. But it's actually not the company that's been buying up these homes recently. So who has been buying the homes?

Mecia So for the last decade or so, Atrium has been buying up properties toward East Boulevard. And what's happened really in the last few months is - Atrium has proceeded with a rezoning to help accommodate some of its growth plans - is that there's been another developer that's been moving in and buying up some land too. Summit Healthcare Group has bought the Starbucks there on the corner of East Boulevard and Scott,  Keyman Building, a few other commercial properties and parking lots. And we discovered through our reporting at the Charlotte Ledger, it now has under contract about two dozen homes. So that's a pretty significant number of homes to get under contract at once. And basically it means all those entire two streets in Dilworth, they will all be if the sales go throught, they will all be corporately owned.

Terry: So what's the plan for these properties then?

Mecia: Yeah, well, they haven't said anything. They did not return phone calls last week. It's a little bit curious in the sense that most of the deals that Summit Healthcare has done have not really been of this size. This is a pretty big land acquisition for a company like Summit Healthcare. I don't think it's far fetched to think that somewhere down the road that this land might be developed for medical uses if you have no residential owners of properties in this area.

Terry: So is this company for-profit or nonprofit?

Mecia: This is a for-profit company. Atrium says it is completely unaffiliated with Summit Healthcare, that they are two separate companies.

Terry: So if these properties do get turned into medical offices of some kind would that area need to be rezoned for that?

Mecia: Yes, Marshall, any conversion of use to office buildings would need to go through the city for a rezoning.

Terry: So could we see a zoning war then coming up here in that area?

Mecia: Yeah, we've already seen a, maybe, a zoning skirmish breaking out in this area over Atrium's plans to rezone its property at Carolinas Medical Center and portions of these streets. But, you know, in the future, if this land were to be developed, that could also, you know, trigger a little bit of back and forth maybe with the neighborhood group, although, you know, if it's all owned by Atrium or Summit Healthcare, you know, the number of people who could really object to that. I mean, they wouldn't really have a lot of standing because they wouldn't own the land.

Terry: An ongoing property dispute between former Congressman Robert Pittenger and his neighbor Lending Tree's CEO Doug Lebda moved to court this week. Remind us, if you will, what is this dispute exactly?

Mecia: Sure, Marshall. So you'll recall that in June 2018, Robert Pittenger sued Doug Lebda and the Gleneagles Homeowners Association, saying that the 15,000 square foot house that Lebda was building right next to his was just, it's just too gargantuan, it's too big, too tall, it was built too close to Pittenger's property line, that it had too many car bays, has room for five cars, and that the homeowners association should not have approved Lebda's plans to build that house, which incidentally, is by the 15th hole at Quail Hollow Club. Pittenger really is just offended that Lebda's house is so close to his and that he says from the top story of Lebda's house, that Lebda is able to just peer down into and see Pittenger's pool, his kitchen, his living room. So this week, lawyers for both sides got together in front of a judge in the North Carolina Business Court in Mecklenburg County. And they talked about sort of what happens next, what the next steps are. There was a motion for summary judgment, which, if it's granted, would decide the case in favor of Lebda and the homeowners association. The judge didn't really indicate which way he was leaning and a decision is expected in the next few weeks.

Terry: Let's move on to some banking news now, Tony. Winston-Salem's BB&T and Atlanta's SunTrust last Friday completed their merger to become Truist, which will be headquartered in uptown Charlotte. And the new bank has already purchased the Hearst Tower uptown for $455.5 million. That was quick.

Mecia: Yeah. Moving pretty quickly. I mean, they're going to rename it the Truist Center of the Hearst Tower will become the Truist Center. We've known for some time that they were gonna be moving into that building and that they had an option to buy that building and that the owner of the building, Cousins Properties, anticipated that they would sell it to Truist. But now it looks like that's officially going to move forward and close probably the next couple of months and that they're going to complete that purchase. It's going to be the most expensive purchase of an office tower in North Carolina history, just beating out the Lincoln Harris sale of the new Bank of America Tower on Stonewall.

Terry: And there was a lawsuit over the name Truist, too, from Truliant Federal Credit Union who said it sounds too much like their name. Is that lawsuit still ongoing?

Mecia: That case is still ongoing. Truist finally, after about six months, filed its reply in that case. Yeah, they're still contesting it. I have to imagine there's still potential settlement talks in the works. There is a debate over that name and the use of the name truist, although analysts and the bank don't really seem all that worried about it.

Terry: All right, Tony, thank you.

Mecia: Thanks, Marshall.

Terry: That's Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger business newsletter. You're listening to WFAE's "Morning Edition."