In 2004, Don Harley, a partner of Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners, joined with Kenny Eason of Legend Builders to develop Racine Business Court, an office condominium complex on three acres on Racine Drive in Wilmington, NC. The property was an ideal, central location just minutes from I-40, downtown Wilmington, Mayfaire and Wrightsville Beach.
Harley and Eason were originally planning to develop one large, 30,000 square foot building on the site, but were soon approached by an investor who wanted a 15,000 square foot, stand-alone building. They wanted to accommodate the buyer request, because it would give the developers funds to offset overall construction costs. But if the property was divided to accommodate the buyer, subdivision regulations and setbacks would restrict the size of the remaining developable property and severely restrict its profitability.
Don Harley engaged real estate attorney Jerry Mannen and together they reviewed the general statutes of condominium development and found a rarely used and little known statute 47-C regarding "condominium of land." By treating the 3-acre tract as a condominium of land with its own master association, they were exempt from subdivision regulations, and were free to build three stand-alone buildings: two at 12,000 square feet and one at 15,000. Instead of one 30,000 square foot high rise, they created three two-story office buildings that offered 9,000 additional square feet and a design and scale much more appropriate to the neighborhood. The land configuration also enabled them to offer buyers an enviable parking ratio of 5 spaces per 1,000 square feet (typical office ratios are 3 to 4 per thousand).
Instead of sticking to their original idea for the property, the developers were creative in exploring solutions and their efforts paid off. The buildings were built one at a time and Harley pre-sold the majority of the office condos ranging from $170 to $200 per square foot.