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Novare Group's TWELVE Hotels and Residences Planning a 35-story
 Tower in Charlotte; 400 Condos on Top of 150 Hotel Suites

By Doug Smith, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Feb. 22, 2006 - An Atlanta developer plans to introduce Charlotteans to one of the hottest trends in urban housing: a condo-hotel high-rise.

Novare Group's TWELVE Hotels and Residences wants to start construction by December of a 33- to 35-story tower in Levine Properties' urban village.

The project -- to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2008 -- will stack about 400 condos on top of roughly 150 hotel suites and a parking structure.

The hotel will operate separately from the condos, but condo owners will have access to all hotel amenities -- room service, housekeeping, concierge, valet parking, etc.

In announcing the new condo-hotel subsidiary last year, Novare officials said they were targeting "a younger, more casual professional" who appreciates online access to hotel services and upscale urban residences.

Daniel Levine of Levine Properties, which is teaming with Faison Enterprises to develop the 32-acre urban village in First Ward, said that's exactly the tone they want to set with this Next Big Thing.

"Novare Group has put a significant amount of study into this demographic," he said. "The DNA they implant in this new neighborhood will be felt for generations to come."

Novare's Conor McNally believes the urban village is a perfect match with the company's strategy of locating TWELVEs where they can draw from the vibrancy of a mixed-use project.

Its first condo-hotel opened this month in Atlanta's midtown Atlantic Station development.

TWELVE's Charlotte high-rise will be across Seventh Street from Seventh Street Station on a block that has been used for the Center City Green Market.

The building is to include 25,000 to 30,000 square feet of street-level and second-floor space for the N.C. Dance Theatre. It will be near UNC Charlotte's planned classroom building and a 4-acre public park.

The condo-hotel, park and civic space for the theater and university "will give us traction immediately" in starting the urban village, said Jim Apple, Faison's executive vice president in charge of commercial and residential services.

Levine's project area, which roughly parallels the trolley line between Sixth and 11th streets, will have more than 2,700 residential units mixed with offices, stores and restaurants.

Novare is counting on the continued resurgence of uptown living with both the condo-hotel project and its 36-story Avenue condo tower under construction at Fifth and Church streets.

More than 3,000 condo units have been announced over the past two years as young professionals and empty nesters flock to center city amenities and jobs.

The condo-hotel trend is becoming popular nationwide in part, developers say, because the combination is easier to finance and the lodging market is recovering from a post 9-11 slump in business travel.

TWELVE's 680- to 700-square-foot suites have full kitchens, living areas and bedrooms just like the building's condos and could be converted to for-sale residences if the lodging market softens.

It's the third "niche" product announced in Charlotte since December, when the owner of the Adam's Mark disclosed plans to turn one of its towers into a 308-room boutique hotel targeting "a hip, professional clientele."

About two weeks ago, Atlanta's Noble Investment Group said it will develop a new hotel brand called "aloft" at College and Trade streets as part of The Ghazi Co.'s EpiCentre complex.

That 176-room hotel's loft-design rooms will focus on food, beverage and entertainment in an effort to combine stylish living with guest interaction.

Typically, such projects go after a market that isn't being served by traditional hotels.

But the number of additional rooms appears large for a lodging market trying to bolster occupancy to a healthy industry standard 65 percent this year from about 61 percent last year.

Tim Newman, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, sees the trend more as providing balance in the market.

He said the boutique rooms announced so far are mainly higher-end and full-service.

And, since full-service hotels tend to charge more and have better occupancy than limited-service properties, the market could see an upward trend in occupancy and daily rates, he said.

Novare is still designing and pricing its Charlotte condo-hotel, but McNally said it will closely resemble TWELVE's Atlantic Station project.

That 26-story building combines 101 one- and two-bedroom hotel suites and 380 condos.

McNally said TWELVE targets 25- to 35-year-old professionals -- the same demographic as its Avenue project -- and likely will price units similarly. Avenue condos are selling from the $170,000s to the $320,000s.

Urban Village

Civitas Inc. of Denver is designing the 32-acre urban village Levine Properties is developing with Faison Enterprises in First Ward. Preliminary plans include:

RESIDENTIAL

2,700 units.

RETAIL

About 250,000 square feet.

OFFICE

About 450,000 square feet.

CIVIC SPACE

About 400,000 square feet.

OPEN SPACE

About 4 acres.

HOTEL SPACE

About 250 rooms.

More about TWELVE

Tentative plans for a TWELVE Hotels and Residences project in First Ward include:

-- About 400 condos, 150 hotel suites in a 33- to 35-story building.

-- Hotel will be operated separately, unlike some projects that allow condo owners to offer units for rent as hotel suites when they're away.

-- Hotel guests and condo owners will have access to a range of amenities, including fitness center, pool, signature lobby restaurant and bar, business center, resident and hotel guest club rooms, housekeeping service, 24-hour concierge, valet parking and room service.

-- Every suite has a flat-screen computer terminal that gives guests Internet access and allows them to order hotel services via computer. Condo residents also can access the hotel services directory via personal computer.

-- A lobby kiosk similar to those airlines use will allow guest to check in and receive a key card without going through the front desk.

-- TWELVE hasn't determined Charlotte condo prices or hotel rates. In its Atlantic Station project in Atlanta, condo prices started in the $190,000s and daily hotel rates range from about $165 to about $225.

-- Construction is to start in December and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2008.

-- Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates of Atlanta is the architect. No general contractor has been named.

Doug Smith: (704) 358-5174; dougsmith@charlotteobserver.com

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.

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