Real Estate News

Real Deals: Halle Cos. plans 300-acre development off Durham Freeway

The Halle Cos., one of the most active developers in the state, has acquired a 300-acre site just off the Durham Freeway at Ellis Road where it plans to build a mix of single-family homes, townhomes, apartments and shops.

The largely vacant site is expected to eventually be home to 600 single-family houses and townhomes, 600 apartments and about 60 acres of retail, said Stephen Fleischman, a vice president with the Silver Springs, Md.-based company.

The build out of the residential portion of the project is expected to take roughly five years, with work on the first batch of apartments expected to begin in the spring.

Although Halle believes there will be strong demand for retail at the Ellis Road exit of the Durham Freeway, Fleischman said the timing on that portion will depend on market conditions.

“If the market’s hot, it goes quickly,” he said. “If the market’s not, it kind of sits there for a while.”

The project is another collaboration between Apex First Development and Halle Building Group, the two entities behind the Villages of Apex, a 202-acre development that also includes a mix of retail, single-family homes and apartments.

Halle partnered with Mike Howington, the former owner of Apex Electric, to create the two companies, and they are now responsible for managing its growing number of projects in North Carolina.

Halle has its fingers in just about every aspect of residential and commercial real estate. It develops land, and builds residential housing, commercial buildings and shopping centers.

The company’s list of projects in the state is both long and diverse. It is building the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Charlotte as well as developing the Eaton’s Crossing residential community at Lake Gaston.

It recently acquired the Ford’s Colony residential development in Rocky Mount and the Foxborough Crossing development in Wendell. Halle has built 336 apartments in Holly Springs with plans to add an 174 units along with four acres of commercial development.

In Raleigh, Fleischman said the company has put property under contract on Raleigh Beach Road and also owns property on Buffaloe Road where it eventually plans to build several hundred apartments.

Fleischman said one of the things that makes the Triangle and North Carolina attractive is the cost of land here, which hasn’t risen as much as it has in other markets where the company has been active.

“In the Washington metropolitan area the price of ground is just so prohibitive that it’s very difficult to buy property and make the numbers work,” he said.

Halle paid about $10 million for the 300-acre site at Ellis Road, acquiring parcels from 12 different owners. Fleischman said Halle first tried to acquire the property 10 years ago. The deal closed last week after about six months of negotiations.

The site’s proximity to Research Triangle Park, which itself is now eager to add the amenities that the area has lacked, should make it particularly attractive to workers in the park. While Halle has high hopes for the project, Fleischman said in this economy nothing can be taken for granted.

“In the economy that we’ve been in for the last several years it’s very difficult to put your fingers on what could happen tomorrow,” he said. “It all changes all the time.”

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