North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2014

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compares with $180,100 for CharlotteGastonia-Concord. D.J. Stephan usually pitches the Charlotte region's housing options with site-search teams in her role with Allen Tate Relocation, a unit of Charlottebased real-estate company Allen Tate Co. It has assisted businesses and executives relocating to the Carolinas since 1968. Stephan and her colleagues took MetLife representatives on bus tours of Charlotte, Raleigh and communities within commuting distance of each. "Since our footprint is large, we could help them in both regions. We hit on all different types of housing. They wanted to make sure that not just their executives could afford to live here but all their employees could afford to live here." Participants asked about schools, traffic and stores. They even wanted to know about the YMCA and how the occasional winter storm is handled. "It's exciting to work with a company that is trying to do the right thing for their employees." As with the delegation's interactions with other business leaders, its members remained anonymous — only first names were used. It was not until the company's public announcement that Stephan was certain with whom she had worked. "We understand the need for confidentiality. I prefer not knowing, because if I don't know who they are, I can't tell a soul." In larger site searches — such as those for Chiquita, Credit Suisse and MetLife — commercial real-estate companies play a role. Talent, climate and livability are great, but adequate and affordable workspace is a necessity. MetLife's unique requirements meant help from experienced real-estate professionals was needed in Charlotte and the Triangle. "In today's world, clients are becoming ever more sophisticated on the real-estate side," says Brian Bertalik, senior vice president with Cushman & Wakefield Thalhimer, the Richmond, Va.-based unit of global real-estate giant Cushman & Wakefield Inc., which has offices in Charlotte and Raleigh. With both commercial-property markets holding up through the recent recession, there was a short list of available sites and buildings that could accommodate 1,300 employees. "In a general sense, both Charlotte and Raleigh are similar — big blocks of quality space are very limited," Bertalik says. MetLife will take over the 284,212-square-foot Gragg Building at Ballantyne Park, in addition to leasing 56,842 square feet in the nearby Woodward Building. It was part of the largest speculative office development in the nation in 2012. In September 2013, Raleigh-based Highwoods Properties Inc. announced it would build two seven-story buildings — more than 420,000 square feet — in Cary for MetLife. They are expected to be completed in the first half of 2015. N C ECO N OMI C D E V E LO P ME N T G UI D E

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