Guest Opinion: When will the Triangle look like Charlotte?

October 5, 2018 | Triangle Business Journal
Lee Roberts

After a trip to Charlotte, Triangle residents often come back asking when Raleigh will look like the Queen City.

We have similar levels of explosive growth, but when will we have landmark office towers, a downtown NFL stadium, and a light rail system? When will we have the same kind of vibrant central business district, with thousands of office workers spilling onto the sidewalks for a sandwich at lunch and a beer after work?

My answer: Don’t hold your breath. Despite a boom driven by many of the same factors as the growth in Charlotte, the structure of the Triangle is far different. In my view, if you want to know what the Triangle of the future will look like, look to Silicon Valley.

The Triangle shares more characteristics with the Western capital of technology than it does with the Southern capital of banking. Start with the employment base. Among the largest private employers in Charlotte are Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Duke Energy. These employers offer not only high-paying jobs, but are the kinds of employers that have, at least historically, housed their employees in large office towers in downtown business districts.

Here in the Triangle, our biggest private employer is Duke University. A well-paying nonprofit organization, to be sure, but a non-profit nonetheless and, perhaps more importantly, an employer with a workforce spread widely across multiple, low-density locations. The same could be said for another of our largest employers, RTI International.

The biggest for-profit employers are different also. For every Red Hat or Citrix that has chosen an urban setting, there are many more – SAS, Cisco, Fidelity, Cree or Lenovo – all in suburban campus locations that many Triangle residents would be hard-pressed to find.

While this is changing as some employers seek the vibrancy of urban clusters to attract and retain younger professionals, that still doesn’t mean that we will develop a traditional hub-and-spoke commuting pattern like Charlotte.

But as I see it, that’s a good thing. Already, an employer who wants a walkable, “live-work-play” location with food and entertainment options can choose from at least half a dozen submarkets around the area.

Recent Articles

Moving Beyond LEED

The next steps in the green-building revolution may be more complex and expensive Lee H. Roberts – Scotsman Guide The push in the U.S. to

Read More »

SharpVue has deep experience investing alongside Independent Sponsors.

What we offer Independent Sponsors:

  • Flexible capital structures, including the ability to invest meaningful equity for a one-stop solution
  • Network of investment partners and industry experts
  • Deep experience partnering with Independent Sponsors
  • Tailored approach to governance and board structures

Lee Roberts

Managing Partner

Lee co-founded SharpVue and leads its real estate investment effort. He has spent his 25+ year career in real estate investment and finance and has been involved in the sector in several contexts, including private equity, investment banking and commercial banking. Immediately prior to SharpVue, he served as budget director for the State of North Carolina, a role in which, among other initiatives, he led an effort to rationalize the state’s real estate portfolio.

Before his time in public service, Mr. Roberts was most recently Managing Director of Piedmont Community Bank Holdings, a private equity-backed bank investment platform in Raleigh. He was earlier a Partner at Cherokee Investment Partners, a real estate private equity fund in Raleigh, and he spent nine years with Morgan Stanley in London and New York, focused on real estate investment banking.

Education: Georgetown, JD; Duke, BA

SharpVue is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen. We believe that integrating environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) considerations into our investment processes and firm policies supports value creation for all stakeholders.

  • In reviewing potential investment opportunities, we evaluate multiple factors including ESG considerations. We seek to identify ESG strengths and risks and incorporate them into our investment decisions and portfolio monitoring.
  • We aim to promote ESG awareness and accountability within the firm. Our ESG actions include:
    • Environmental: We endeavor to operate in an environmentally responsible manner by reducing waste and raising awareness of efficient energy and resource usage.
    • Social: We strive to maintain an environment free of discrimination in which all employees are provided opportunities for personal development and growth.
    • Governance: We maintain strict internal policies that emphasize firm governance, compliance, and ethical employee behavior.