Huge swath of Dilworth to be gobbled up by developer

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EXCLUSIVE: Two dozen homeowners off East Boulevard agree to sell; Houses on two entire residential streets will be owned by companies

By Tony Mecia and Michelle Crouch

Every house along two neighborhood streets in Dilworth is on the verge of being owned by healthcare-affiliated companies, as about two dozen homeowners have agreed to sell their land to a developer active in the area, real estate sources tell The Ledger.

It’s a huge story for a high-profile section of Dilworth, as the pending sales crystalize worries about the growth of Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center and could one day lead to a dramatic transformation one of Charlotte’s historic neighborhoods.

The intrigue around Dilworth, which has quickly spread among neighbors in the last few days, centers on two residential streets off East Boulevard that dead end next to CMC: Fountain View Street and Garden Terrace. For years, Atrium Health has been purchasing houses on those streets. Atrium owns 14 of 19 residential parcels on Garden Terrace and 11 of 24 on Fountain View, for a total of about 6.6 residential acres in the area, according to a Ledger analysis of real estate records.

Now, though, land brokers have persuaded the remaining homeowners on those streets, plus a handful of owners on nearby Scott Avenue, to sell, says Nick Lukens with Moseley Real Estate Advisors, which represents the Starbucks on East Boulevard.

“Any of the homes [on] Fountain View and Garden Terrace, if it’s not already owned by the hospital, it’s under contract,” he told the Ledger, based on conversations he said he has had with people familiar with the deals. Lukens said he didn’t know the identity of the company buying the houses.

Two other sources with knowledge of the transactions identified the buyer as being linked to Summit Healthcare Group — the medical-office developer that recently bought the Starbucks and Key Man buildings and related commercial properties that face East Boulevard. Summit Healthcare did not return a phone call on Friday.

About 50 Dilworth houses between Atrium’s Carolinas Medical Center and East Boulevard (in red box) are on the verge of being owned by healthcare-related companies. About two dozen homeowners on Garden Terrace, Fountain View and Scott Avenue have agreed to sell to a company linked to Summit Healthcare, a medical-office developer. Separately, Atrium already owns about 25 houses in the area.

Both sources put the number of parcels the developer is buying at roughly two dozen. The number of non-Atrium-owned parcels on Fountain View, Garden Terrace and the section of Scott between East Boulevard and Atrium property is 25, totaling about 5 acres, the Ledger analysis of real-estate records shows. That’s a large number of parcels for a developer to assemble, which suggests that a lot of money is being offered and that homeowners are increasingly willing to leave as development plans are announced all around them.

Many other areas of Charlotte are grappling with similar questions of how to maintain their character as the city grows.

Fountain View Street is one of two off East Boulevard on the verge of having no individual homeowners.

‘Intimidating’ rezoning, mum about land sales: Dilworth neighbors have traditionally had an uneasy relationship with the hospital, and many don’t care for Atrium’s growth plans. In August, Atrium submitted plans to the city to rezone its 71-acre campus, and its site plan would allow construction of buildings up to 60 feet high on what are now residential parcels on Fountain View and Garden Terrace — though Atrium says it has no existing plans to build anything there.

Atrium’s site plan as part of its rezoning allows for redeveloping most of Garden Terrace and a handful of residential parcels along Fountain View. The company says it has no plans to build anything there, however.

On Friday and Saturday, three people who live on Fountain View declined to discuss if they know anything about plans to buy homes on the block. Nobody would say whether they have agreed to sell. But several voiced strong opinions about Atrium.

“What I can say is that I had a rezoning proposal smashed in my face,” said Chris Guella, who lives on Fountain View, “and I could soon have a 60-foot ambiguous structure outside my window. The Atrium rezoning was extremely intimidating, and I would not be surprised if people are considering alternatives rather than waiting for the bulldozers to show up.”

A second resident, who asked not to be identified, said development in the area is “a freight train coming downhill. We’re not going to stop it.”

Fountain View residents seem to believe they face a no-win situation. They can stay and hope their quality of life doesn’t decline as land near them is redeveloped. Or they can try to get out now by selling, though it could be tough to find a buyer who’s cool with Atrium’s plans for growth and more development along East Boulevard.

Atrium’s growth: An Atrium spokesman told The Ledger that Atrium has been buying land on residential streets for the last decade or so as opportunities presented themselves, because the hospital system wants to ensure it has flexibility in the future. But it says it has no plans to build anything on those streets and that the bulk of its redevelopment will take place more toward the Morehead Street side of its property. Atrium wants to work with neighbors and be honest and open about its intentions, the spokesman said.

The spokesman added that Atrium has no connection to Summit Healthcare: “We absolutely do not have anything to do with that other developer.”

Summit Healthcare has announced no plans for its recent purchases of commercial property in the area. But it doesn’t take an Atrium brain surgeon to figure out that at some point in the future, large portions of land that now contain houses could become medical facilities. Any such change would require the assent of city leaders, since the land on those streets is zoned for residential use. Any changes on those streets might not materialize for years.

Atrium’s rezoning would allow it to modernize its buildings, accommodate growth and perhaps include a medical school. Some of the people objecting to Atrium’s plans are the same people who are now planning to sell their houses.

— Stella Smolowitz contributed to this article.

Feedback: What do you think? Should this section of Dilworth be converted to medical uses? Or should the residential part of the neighborhood stay residential? How does Charlotte balance growth with maintaining the character of neighborhoods? Drop us a line, and we’ll run some of the responses in the future.

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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

The Charlotte Ledger is published by Tony Mecia, an award-winning former Charlotte Observer business reporter and editor. He lives in Charlotte with his wife and three children.