Thursday, 21 July 2011 20:01

Langtree rises along lakeshore

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When the leaves start falling, buildings will be going up on a long-awaited, massive, multi phase development expected to transform the countryside and Lake Norman shoreline near the Mecklenburg-Iredell line.

Langtree at the Lake, a 400-acre multi-use project branching out in every direction from the I-77/Langtree Road interchange in Mooresville, is in the final stage of phase one planning, according to Barry Rigby, executive vice president of development for RL West Properties and Langtree Development Company.

Rigby expects construction to begin this fall and anticipates welcoming Langtree’s first residential occupants next summer.

“We’re refining plans for phase one working with local officials to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Rigby says. “Our goal is to get the Tonka Trucks fired up and moving by October.”

The “Tonka Trucks” are the gigantic haulers that, from a distance, look like a child’s toys. Up close, when the 10-foot-high tires beneath tugboat-sized hauling beds start thundering around a project, things progress in a hurry.

The initial growth at Langtree will spring from the southwest corner of Exit 31. The 50-acre plus parcel, which includes a long stretch of Lake Norman shoreline, will include 300 upscale apartments, 45,000 square feet of retail space, a 60,000-square-foot office building and at least the beginnings of one of several hotels planned for the overall Langtree community.

In the first phase, as in many of the planned future phases, the lake’s shoreline will be incorporated into many of Langtree’s various projects.

“We want this project to be a community collection point focusing on the lake,” Rigby says. “There are miles of shoreline and boardwalks and other waterfront amenities included in our plans.”

The overall expectations for the development include residential units spread throughout the complex, many on the top floors of buildings housing retail and office space. Free-standing commercial buildings, an assortment of high-end and themed restaurants, various retail operations ranging from national chains to locally -owned stores and other uses including gas stations and movie theaters are all envisioned as eventual parts of Langtree 750,000 square feet of retail space.

The big plans have been in place for several years. The project’s initial planners, Mooresville’s Rick and Brad Howard, compiled the property and introduced the concept to town, county and state officials more than six years ago. The Howards’ efforts and investments, with cooperation from local governments and state agencies, along with the promise of Lowes locating its headquarters nearby, also helped make the pre-development construction of the Langtree Road exit off I-77 possible.

But Rigby says the languishing economy stalled progress and RL West, an Ohio-based commercial development firm, saw an opportunity to get involved.

“We looked at this early on as a potential project,” Rigby says, “but we put it on the back burner. When the economy slowed, we were among the groups fortunately not caught without a chair when the music stopped, in fact we had several chairs.”

RL West, keeping the Howards on board, assumed responsibility for the project in January and begin outlining the development schedule.

If the schedule is met, the entire first phase, including apartments, multiple retail facilities and the office building, will be finished by the end of 2012, when Rigby expects other pieces of the Langtree puzzle to be taking shape.

“I expect there to be concurrent projects on other parcels,” Rigby says, emphasizing that the hotels and other businesses committed to Langtree want to stay under the radar until plans are completely finalized.

“Langtree will have the first hotel on all of Lake Norman,” Rigby says. “We have specifically identified the parcels where hotels will be located, but corporate executives make the final decision and announcements come from their corporate offices.”

For now, Rigby says progress is the key and work set to begin this fall should ease the community’s uncertainty and lingering doubt generated by the long delay between Langtree’s conception and construction.

“I’ve heard the talk and I understand the skepticism,” Rigby says, “but I don’t worry about rumors and talk about what might happen with this project because I know where we are, where we are headed, our plans and our financial situation. I’m excited about being a part of this. This is not a theory, it is not a dream. This is happening and it will continue to happen.”

And as it happens, Rigby joins many others in imaging what it will mean to the surrounding area. He’s so committed to the project, in fact, that he moved here from his native Ohio. “This will be an amazing story to watch for Mooresville, and the entire Lake Norman area,” Rigby says.

The unique combination of community and corporate characteristics are among the factors that made the project such an attractive venture for RL West, Rigby explains.

“The synergies in play here are unbelievable and that is what will fuel the project’s success,” he says. “You have the proximity to a top 40 corporation (Lowes), about five miles of Lake Norman shoreline and interstate access already in place connecting the development to all the surrounding towns. Each of these factors individually would make this an attractive project, but together it is absolutely magnificent.”

While the schedule for the first phase, assuming approval from governing agencies progresses as expected, is set, Rigby said the company does not have a carved-in-stone agenda for the rest of the project.

“We plan to stay involved in the community,” he says. “We don’t look to immediately transfer and sell, we’re a patient group. We want to get started with what what we are certain about and let the market come to us.”

And he’s confident that when fall’s colors arrive, so will signs of a bright future for Langtree at the Lake.

Read 5130 times Last modified on Thursday, 08 December 2011 06:22

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