Crosland Southeast, the Charlotte developer behind the transformation of the Eastland Mall site, and the investment manager Nuveen Real Estate have purchased the 12-acre property in the heart of Plaza Midwood that includes Central Square — home to Yama Izakaya, Bistro La Bon and several other businesses.
Crosland Southeast’s deal also includes acquiring three other Plaza Midwood properties: The Midwood Corners shopping center, which houses Rita’s and Akahana Asian Bistro; a small parcel off Central Avenue that includes a daycare; and another small, triangular-shaped site on Pecan Avenue.
This positions Crosland Southeast and Nuveen to play a prominent role in the future of Plaza Midwood, where longtime residents fight to preserve character and charm. In a statement, the new owners say they are in the early stages of planning a “pedestrian-friendly development that will foster connectivity and reflect the neighborhood’s distinct character” at Central Square.
The project will include residences, retail, restaurants, and creative office space. It will take four to five years to complete, and will be done in phases.
Crosland Southeast and Nuveen bought the 12-acre site for $49.8 million, according to records in the Mecklenburg County register of deeds. Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger first reported the sale price. Crosland Southeast paid $8.5 million for the Midwood Corners complex, records show.
Plaza Midwood has changed drastically over the last few years, with the addition of new bars, restaurants, and hundreds of new apartments.
In the recent past, Snooze AM Eatery and Pour Taproom have opened as stark, new contrasts to old favorites like the Thirsty Beaver. Plaza Midwood has also lost longtime establishments like the Penguin and the Dairy Queen on Central Avenue.
The new owners haven’t made any decisions about the long-term businesses in the area. But they seem to indicate they’d like to keep some of the existing buildings and establishments.
“As we think about the future, this means curating a sustainable tenant mix that fits well into the neighborhood, which we believe will include existing tenants as well as new tenants that share the passion for an authentic environment,” Nuveen and Crosland Southeast said in an emailed statement.
“It also means maintaining on-site structures, where possible, that add to the distinct character of the project.”
The Dog Salon has operated in an older building at the edge of the Central Square property for 15 years. Book Buyers, a family-owned used-book store, opened more than two decades ago in the Midwood Corners shopping center, next to Akahana.
In the same way it plans to engage with the Eastland community, Crosland Southeast will solicit feedback from the Plaza Midwood residential and business community before it builds anything.
Nuveen is the investment manager of TIAA. Crosland Southeast is behind a number of high-profile mixed-use projects in the area, including Birkdale Village in Huntersville and Waverly in south Charlotte. Both include a mix of apartments, restaurants, and entertainment.
The Central Square property in the heart of Plaza Midwood one day will connect with its much larger project four miles away on the Eastland site.
Eventually, the Gold Line streetcar will run down Central Avenue and straight to Eastland. The expansive property where the popular shopping mall once stood includes nearly 78 acres that the city of Charlotte bought in 2013.
Crosland Southeast plans to buy the land from the city and turn it into a mixed-use development broken down into four components: Major League Soccer facilities, a public park, commercial space, and homes and apartments.
Last month, the city filed a rezoning petition for the property, which is on Central between North Sharon Amity and Albemarle roads. Although it’s a technical step, the rezoning marks an important milestone in the transformation of the site, which has sat mostly vacant since the mall closed in 2010.
Back in the center of Plaza Midwood, the four properties that Crosland Southeast is buying have long been owned by Cole Investments & Investments Inc., a family-run firm. The commercial real estate firm Berkeley Capital Advisors listed the Central Square property on its website last September. A representative from Berkeley did not respond to a request for a comment Thursday.
Given their prime locations, the properties drew at least 18 different offers from developers from across the U.S., real-estate sources say.
Property records show that the Central Square property comprises three parcels with a tax value of about $18.2 million. On that site, there’s a central, beige building that’s home to popular restaurants such as The Roasting Company and Bistro La Bon. On the far side of the property is a much older set of buildings with Yoga One and The Dog Salon.
There’s the CVS on the corner, then a few other establishments that face Pecan, including Meineke. Central Square’s parking lot is expansive, but it’s well known that if you park there illegally you may be towed.
Meanwhile, the Midwood Corners shopping center just up the street has a tax value of roughly $5 million, records show. That complex, across the street from the Harris Teeter, includes a mix of newer tenants like Dunkin’ Donuts, along with longtime ones like Book Buyers.
Developers have been eyeing and buying property in Plaza Midwood even as property values skyrocket.
Aston Properties bought the old Dairy Queen spot at Central and Pecan avenues for $1.05 million in October 2018. Across the street, Charlotte-based Asana bought the building at 1508 and 1510 Central Ave., for about $1.7 million last summer.
Plaza Midwood has already transformed significantly in recent years. These deals, plus those of Crosland Southeast and Nuveen, mean even more change is ahead for the neighborhood.
This story, originally published on February 20, was updated on March 6.