Asana Partners to acquire retail portion of 3 Crescent Communities projects

December 6, 2017

Prolific retail real estate investment firm Asana Partners has entered an agreement with developer Crescent Communities to acquire the retail component of three of its projects.

Asana, a Charlotte-based company that has acquired several high-profile properties in uptown, South End and other urban neighborhoods, will purchase, lease and manage nearly 120,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, including the 38,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market under construction at Crescent's Novel Stonewall Station project. Asana will soon acquire retail space for an undisclosed amount at Novel Stonewall Station, Novel NoDa and Ally Charlotte Center, all projects master developed by Crescent Communities.

About half of Asana's acquisition is represented at the Stonewall Station project, which includes more than 22,000 square feet of ground-floor retail in addition to the Whole Foods, scheduled to open next year.

At Novel NoDa, immediately adjacent to the Lynx Blue Line Extension's 36th Street Station, Asana will purchase a 7,600-square-foot condominium on the first floor of the existing building along with a second building that represents a previously planned second phase of the project, which will include 22,000 square feet of retail development.

That second phase is expected to deliver in summer 2018, according to Crescent Communities. Novel NoDa, which includes 344 apartments, began opening to residents in September. A nearly 280-foot-wide mural designed by Charlotte artist Holly Keogh was commissioned by Crescent and recently completed on Novel NoDa's exterior.

The third piece of Asana's acquisition, Ally Charlotte Center, will include 25,000 square feet of shops and restaurants along Tryon, Stonewall and Hill streets. Ally Charlotte Center will include a 26-story, 742,000-square-foot office building anchored by Ally Financial (NYSE: ALLY) in addition to retail, a hotel and a 20,000-square-foot public plaza.

In July, Asana Partners acquired the 44,000-square-foot building at 600 S. College St., the same block as Crescent's holdings at Ally Charlotte Center, for $6.4 million. That building was the longtime home of James, McElroy and Diehl law firm, which moved to 525 North Tryon after Asana closed on the purchase.

Brian Leary, president of commercial and mixed use at Crescent, didn't comment on any partnership with Asana when asked by the Charlotte Business Journal at the time. That interview took place before Crescent finalized negotiations with the anchor tenant that kicked off the project once called Tryon Place.

Leary said in a statement that Asana Partners has proven to be "a catalyzing force" in retail and restaurants in Charlotte.

"Based here but operating coast-to-coast, Asana is not only supporting the best retail entrepreneurs and local chefs, they are using their relationships nationwide to attract even more talent in this area to their developments in South End, Elizabeth and Myers Park," Leary said.

Sam Judd, managing partner at Asana, said in a statement that the Stonewall corridor — where more than $2.5 billion is planned or in development — is "primed" for retail and restaurants that will complement the residential and business uses.

"There is big opportunity to do something special here, and we are excited to partner with a high-quality developer like Crescent to help shape an important part of the city," Judd said.

Since Asana, founded by former Edens execs Terry Brown, Jason Tompkins and Judd, opened on Labor Day 2015, it's been making waves in Charlotte and other markets. In January of this year, Asana closed on a $500 million debut fund with equity commitments from pension funds, insurance companies and endowments. Since then — and even before — Asana has spent millions on high-profile, nearly contiguous South End properties, including the Design Center of the Carolinas, the Hawkins Street Design Center, 200 W. Tremont Ave., and 1515-1537 Camden Road, creating what's being marketed as the Design District.

Outside of uptown and South End, Asana also purchased Tranquil Court in Myers Park and the Dollar General-anchored shopping center at the corner of Seventh Street and Pecan Avenue in Elizabeth.

Its investments aren't limited to Charlotte, though. Asana has bought up several properties in Old Town Alexandria in Virginia, where it's spent more than $100 million on retail and office space, and it also acquired a retail development near Music Row in Nashville, Tenn.