Honeywell HQ to anchor latest office tower at Legacy Union in uptown

The electronics manufacturer, which is relocating its corporate headquarters to Charlotte from New Jersey, will occupy about 280,000 square feet at 700 S. Mint St. — the third office building to come to Lincoln Harris’ 10-acre uptown Charlotte site. Honeywell (NYSE: HON) has signed a long-term lease agreement for nine floors at the 23-story, 330,000-square-foot tower, expected to break ground in September and be finished in the first half of 2021. The Charlotte Business Journal previously reported a third office building was pegged for the Mint Street site, but the square footage of the building has since increased.

Honeywell will be taking the majority of the building’s leasable space, which includes 10 floors of office. The remaining floors including ground-floor retail, the lobby and parking.

Johno Harris, president of Lincoln Harris, said Honeywell coming to Charlotte is an “extreme plus” and puts an exclamation point on the current office momentum in uptown Charlotte.

“Certainly having them choose the Legacy Union site and being part of that reiterates our thesis in what we’re trying to accomplish on the site,” Harris continued.

Honeywell has already begun hiring and relocating positions to Charlotte. Starting next month, Honeywell is expected to begin moving into two floors at 300 South Tryon, its headquarters space until the Legacy Union tower is finished, said Dan Kirschner, vice president of global real estate at Honeywell. The company is projecting to have 250 Honeywell employees working in Charlotte by September.

The company said in November it would relocate its headquarters to Charlotte, a move that will result in at least 750 jobs here by the end of 2024. The relocation was aided by nearly $42.5 million from the state’s Job Development Investment Grant and another $28.9 million from Mecklenburg County and $17.1 million from the city of Charlotte, a combined Business Investment Program grant that’s the largest offered to date.

The N.C. General Assembly last year passed a bill specifically to lure Honeywell that raised the JDIG cap from $6,500 to $16,000 per job for economic development projects bringing high-salary positions to the state. That bill ultimately boosted the state package offered to Honeywell by up to $10 million, as
previously reported by CBJ.

Honeywell’s search was laser-focused on the Southeast. The other areas short-listed for Honeywell’s headquarters included the Charlotte metro in South Carolina as well as Houston, Atlanta and two Florida cities: Tampa and Orlando.

Honeywell has spent the past nine months looking at office options in Charlotte — initially, the company looked everywhere, but eventually zeroed in on uptown and South End. The company landed on Legacy Union because of the success thus far of the project and Lincoln Harris’ reputation of being able to deliver, Kirschner said.

“We wanted to make sure we made the right decision long-term,” he said, adding Honeywell had prioritized access to amenities and highways and, of course, a location that would attract and retain talent. He said there were a number of “really good” development options in Charlotte in proximity to
where Honeywell was searching.

The 700 Mint building, which sits directly across the street from Bank of America Stadium, will include ground-floor retail space, about 800 parking spaces and a rooftop terrace. It will also be designed with Honeywell technology — the company has a unit that develops building-management systems, including for energy, security and surveillance, as well as network-based infrastructure.

Legacy Union covers two city blocks, bounded by South Tryon, Stonewall, Mint and Hill streets. The site was acquired by Lincoln Harris and its partner Goldman Sachs for $37.5 million in 2016. Part of the land was formerly home to The Charlotte Observer and is today being developed with a public plaza, large parking deck, retail space and, so far, three office buildings — 700 South Mint; Bank of America Tower, the first building that measures 850,000 square feet; and 650 South Tryon, a 362,000-square-foot tower to be anchored by Deloitte that’s under construction now. Bank of America Tower is more than 90% leased and 650 South Tryon is about 35% pre-leased.

The site has always contemplated a mixture of uses but, so far, it’s been heavily concentrated on office development. There are two remaining major sites: at the corner of Stonewall and Tryon streets and at Stonewall and Mint streets.

“From a developer standpoint, we’re always paying attention to the market,” Harris said. “With the (current) demand with office, you develop through the market. That’s what we’ve done.”

Legacy Union could potentially bear five office towers total if the market demanded it, he continued, but added the firm continues to talk to multifamily, hospitality and retail groups.

“At the end of the day, this will be a combination of all those uses in some form or fashion,” Harris said. “As we continue to see the market grow and demand grow, it’s not lost on us that there’s going to be demand for hospitality and multifamily and retail.”

Most of the companies that have signed on at Legacy Union are existing market tenants that have outgrown their current spaces in town or have needed to relocate for other reasons. But, Harris said, the new buildings coming to uptown, including at Legacy Union, have leased up quickly — two office towers
on nearby blocks are, in fact, essentially fully leased by Ally Financial and Duke Energy.

“The Charlotte uptown market has been, over the past five years, truly dynamic — I’m including South End in that,” Harris said. “If you think about what has been developed and the movement that has occurred from Dimensional (Fund Advisors) to LendingTree to Honeywell to KPMG to Ally … just go down the line.”

Ridr Knowlton and Campbell Walker at Lincoln Harris represented the landlord. Mike Fahey, Rob Hinton and Nathan Lamb at CBRE represented Honeywell. LS3P Associates is the architect. LandDesign is the civil engineer. Shelco and Gilbane are the general contractors.