Highway Projects in Charlotte and their effect on Commercial Real Estate


I think it’s safe to say most people despise traffic.  It takes your time away from your families and dips into your much needed sleep.  We’d all be a little happier for a shorter commute, but this isn’t the only thing traffic affects.  On an economic level, it stunts the growth of the commercial real estate market, because investors may not be willing to build in a city that lacks the infrastructure for success.  This is a problem Charlotte faces since the city hasn’t received the proper amount of funding in the past for transportation projects and now it’s possibly getting too much all at the same time.

According to Steve Harrison in an article in the Charlotte Observer, “for years, Charlotte political and business leaders complained the city didn’t receive its fair share of state highway funds.  But in a reversal of that long-running theme, the Charlotte area is in a highway building boom, with more than $3 billion in projects under way or planned.”  Some of the projects taking place include completing the       I-485 outer loop in north Charlotte, widening the I-485 outer belt in south Charlotte, while adding a flyover at the Johnston Road interchange.  More projects include, widening I-85 from Bruton Smith Boulevard to NC 73, and converting the carpool lane on I-77 into a toll lane.  These projects have positives and negatives, and they are much needed for an ever expanding metropolis, but how are they going to affect commercial real estate?

In the short term, the increase in traffic during these projects may cause a decrease in CRE business along the congested highways, since people will tend to avoid these areas.  But these improvements to Charlotte’s highways could also increase the city’s population since people will feel more comfortable investing in a growing market.  In the long term, these improvements may cause the CRE market to experience an exponential growth in business, since there will be more opportunities to expand into untapped locations in the Charlotte area. Areas such as Ballantyne, Fort Mill, Concord, Monroe, and Rock Hill will all have the potential for CRE growth with the much more developed infrastructure.  And let’s not forget the everyday commuter-maybe, just maybe- we’ll all be a little disgruntled for the next year or two, but in the end, there might actually be a smile on our face when we experience our newly shortened commute.