Act With Urgency
300 South Tryon Street, one of Uptown’s newest high rises, is due to make its debut any day. It’s a great location, ideal for the 25-story office tower and 217-room Kimpton hotel that will be opening later this year. It’s a location I know well. Three decades ago, I helped pick that spot and assemble some of the land for a new office tower for Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. (CML).
I was working for Lat Purser & Associates (LPA) in 1986 at which time the firm was a loan correspondent for CML. CML contacted LPA to say it wanted to build a high-rise office building in downtown Charlotte citing as the reason that it generated a lot of premiums from the sale of insurance policies in the Charlotte metro area and wanted to solidify local business relationships.
CML, which employed in-house developers, identified 300 South Tryon as the building site. Land was also needed for parking, so we assembled about two-thirds of the land for what’s now known as Romare Bearden Park for what in 1986 was slated to become a parking garage. Many of the land parcel sellers were second and/or third-generation owners. Our timing was fortuitous owing to the forthcoming 1/1/87 implementation of the Reagan Tax Act, which contained provisions making (tax) advantages to sell. We assembled + 10 parcels in 90 days.
As it turned out, the crash of 1987 occurred and CML simultaneously discovered they had an actuarial problem in their insurance business. CML folded the tent and went home, leaving my big (office) leasing commission on the table. CML was subsequently purchased by Mass Mutual, which in conjunction with Spectrum Properties is building the above noted office high rise and hotel.
Looking back, the lesson learned was to move with urgency. Nearly 24 months had passed by the time the 1987 crash occurred. We had a credit tenant in hand, and we should have come out of the ground before the crash occurred. Executing a plan with urgency is important. Walk briskly.
The silver lining in failing to act with urgency those years ago is now known as Romare Bearden Park, which is beautiful. It is a place where people want to be and serves as the front door for the Mass Mutual Office Building and Kimpton Hotel.