Working out of office space in Barclay Downs might be like spending the day right between two very different urban landscapes. With most office space condensed into a strip along the far southern edge of the community, looking north from one of the modest towers in this area will show an idyllic subdivision with winding roads, countless trees, and Uptown’s skyscrapers in the background.
By contrast, looking southwest shows an impressive sea of concrete buildings and parking lots – South Park Mall and the many buildings and shopping centers that have sprung up around it in the last few decades.
That proximity to the greenery of the residential neighborhood and the commercial action of SouthPark Mall may be why the south end of Barclay Downs has some of the premier office locations in the larger South Park market, with significant developments like Piedmont Town Center and Capitol Towers. Tenants of just these two complexes include some of the world’s top financiers and insurance carriers, such as Robert W. Baird, E*TRADE, AIG, and PNC.
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For being such a small part of Barclay Downs – a quadrant of the relatively small SouthPark submarket – the density of office space makes it a notable driver of the commercial real estate ecosystem.
The South Park submarket as a whole has features more than 3 million square feet of Class A office space and slightly less than 1.5 million square feet of Class B assets. The two hexagonal towers of Piedmont Town Center have about 420,000 square feet of office space between them, plus nearly 90,000 square feet of retail space and scores of residential units. Companies with outposts here include insurers like Lockton and AIG, financial service provider E*Trade, and anchor tenant Piedmont Natural Gas.
Virtually across the street, the newer Capitol Towers have 480,000 square feet of Class A office space between the twin, 10-story, dome-topped buildings. The complex also devotes about 35,000 square feet to retail space between the regal entry plaza and two smaller buildings adjoining the central parking structure.
The fact that just those four buildings – among many surrounding the mall – make up about a third of SouthPark’s Class A inventory indicates that Barclay Downs is a key hub within the submarket.
Perhaps because of its growing popularity, and the new buildings that have come online in recent years, SouthPark is among the more expensive places to lease office space in Charlotte, behind Uptown and South End. Average asking rents for Class A space average nearly $31 per square foot while Class B prices hover about $25 per square foot. Vacancy rates are about 10 and 14 percent, respectively.
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Despite this area being a little less prestigious than Uptown and less specialized than the research facilities of University, lower density her has made it easier, cheaper, and less risky to buy up larger tracts of land and bring new, top-notch office buildings to market, as well as luxury condos and upscale retail space. The influx of new Class A space likely drew chemical manufacturer Albemarle to scoop up 50,000 square feet of Capitol Towers’s south building for its headquarters, and then more than 140,000 additional square feet in the north building earlier this year.
Other companies north of the mall include steel manufacturer Nucor Corporation and independent bottler Coca-Cola Consolidated. Additionally, with the vast SouthPark Mall also within the boundaries of Barclay Downs, the community has virtually all of the dining, entertainment, and recreation one could want just a few minutes away.
Within the mall’s footprint, these include big box stores like Macy’s, Belk, Neiman Marcus, and about 150 other smaller shops, as well as restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory and McCormick & Schmick’s. However, most office buildings have the restaurants and shops on their bottom floors. Continuing to use the previous examples, Piedmont Town Center has Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House and Brio Tuscan Grille, among others, while Capitol Towers have SouthPark Grill in the entry plaza, Village Tavern across the street, and Legion Brewing Company plans to open an 11,500-square-foot, rotunda-topped brewery, pub, and beer garden within the Capitol Towers development in fall of 2018.
The area immediately surrounding the mall contains a variety of neighborhood necessities like grocery stores, pharmacies, and salons, while more amenities lay just outside of Barclay Downs’ borders, including another mall and a theater at Phillips Place to the south and a regional library to the east.
As far as getting outdoors, Barclay Downs has plenty of greenery and several streams, but only one publicly accessible park, Symphony Park at SouthPark, which is where the mall hosts the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for its summer pops concert series as well as festivals throughout the year.
The outdoors isn’t far away though, and Mecklenburg County’s 124-acre Park Road Park lies barely across the street from Barclay Downs’ southwest corner, where visitors can find courts for numerous sports, concession stands, walking trails, and a small pier onto its 4-acre lake. For a more refined experience, the Myers Park Country Club contains a sprawling 18-hole golf course and other amenities.
Getting Around Barclay Downs
Since Barclay Downs is a relatively small community with one of the biggest shopping malls in the region, most daily necessities and errands are relatively close and easy to reach.
However, the area around the mall is a heavily-trafficked area and may be daunting for those getting around on foot or a bike – not to mention the rush hour traffic with roughly 40,000 people entering and leaving jobs in the larger SouthPark area.
Barclay Downs also has limited infrastructure for those who regularly get around on bikes, and public transportation lines running through the neighborhood will only take passengers to a few places before they’ll likely need to hop another bus.