WRAL Investigates

Residents remain frustrated with stalled townhouse community

Posted October 12, 2010 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2010 7:28 p.m. EDT

WRAL Investigates

— Earlier this year, North Carolina State University started looking to hire a new developer for its stalled project, North Shore Town Homes on Centennial Campus. WRAL Investigates has learned that change is not coming any time soon.

The address says Capability Drive, but perhaps Limbo Lane is more appropriate. That's how residents in North Shore Town Homes say they feel.

WRAL Investigates first met the frustrated residents in March. They reported having leaky roofs, no stop signs and promises of major repairs that didn't materialize. The plan was for nearly 300 units, but only 33 were built.

At the time, N.C. State was looking for a new developer to pick up where Craig Davis Properties left off three-and-a-half years ago. The university found interested companies, but it can't move forward because the contract for North Shore remains tied up in court.

Resident Jake Plotkin said he doesn't think anything will happen soon given what happened at a homeowners meeting after WRAL’s story in March.

“Regarding the lawsuit, Craig has vowed to develop this community, or he’ll do what it takes to prevent someone else from coming in,” Plotkin said.

When asked about that comment, Davis said he is committed to the project, “as I have always been.”

“Centennial Campus is a very special place to me,” Davis said. “NCSU is also a very special institution (that) provided me with my education, (for) which I will always be grateful.”

“We have continued to have a strong working relationship with all parties at NCSU, and we have done everything in our power to move this project forward, including presenting a plan to complete this project in its entirety, which included financing that was rejected by NCSU officials, which is why we have a dispute,” he added. “This is what I told the homeowners I would do – and I did – everything I said I would do.”

Davis has worked successfully with the university before on the Venture Center complex of office buildings on Centennial Campus. He is also currently moving forward with the Alliance Center office building, which also is on Centennial Campus.

Looking at court files, Davis has had a series of challenges that took North Shore from sputter to stalled. The original builder sued him, and then an architect and a lender sued him to get paid.

After Davis submitted a new plan in 2009, the N.C. State endowment that owns the North Shore property terminated its lease with Davis. The endowment is also suing a Davis subsidiary called Lake Raleigh LLC, and Davis has counter-sued.

“We hope (North Shore Town Homes) is a successful project,” said Mike Harwood, with Centennial Campus Development. “We think we’ve got a lot of bright people working on a resolution. I can’t speak to the particulars, because I don’t want to unduly influence an active legal action.”

Since WRAL’s story in March, the university did add stop signs and cover an open manhole. Despite the struggle with Davis on the townhouse project, the school says Davis' Alliance Center is in good shape.

“I think the relationship is pretty good,” Harwood said. “We’ve been working very well with the design, and I expect that to carry into construction.”

Down the street at North Shore, residents are hoping for a similar outcome. With Davis having the final say with the Homeowners Association, residents remain powerless.

“We cannot vote, deny or change anything without Craig’s approval,” Plotkin said. “Craig has been unresponsive to voicemail (and) e-mail, so we can’t do anything with our HOA.”

If the case is settled and Davis is off the project, N.C. State says it has a list of developers ready to take over.

Davis has also received attention for four properties in foreclosure in the Highwoods Development off Capital Boulevard. His attorney, Ed Gaskins, says Davis only holds a small interest in those properties.