Triangle Real Estate of Gastonia Inc.

Nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, the latest development by Triangle Real Estate of Gastonia Inc. offers high-end one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments close to historic downtown Hendersonville, as well as easy access to all the recreational activities the mountains have to offer.

The project was organized and developed in two different phases. The first phase of the 18-acre Ballantyne Commons development contains 200 apartment units with open layouts and modern architectural features, such as vaulted ceilings, kitchens with granite countertops, sunrooms and garages available for rent.

William Ratchford, vice president for Triangle Real Estate of Gastonia and its sister company Southwood Realty, notes that the property, besides boasting high-end finishes and amenities, also has the largest clubhouse the company has developed to date. “These are class A-style apartments and they will have a 5,500-square-foot clubhouse with a pool, fitness center, mail center and meeting rooms,” he explains.

Ratchford is the third generation of his family at the helm of the company that his grandfather Gene Ratchford founded in the mid-1960s. He focuses on the development of new properties from their inception and construction overseen by Triangle, to their management by Southwood Realty. The two companies are, in a way, their own client. “Triangle Real Estate caters to its own development,” he says. “We start with the land, take it through the development plans with architects and developers, contract out the construction work and continue owning the property once it’s finished. We are basically building for ourselves.”

The second 12-acre phase of Ballantyne Commons will consist of 160 apartment units, designed with the same aesthetics and high-end finishes as the first part of the project. The development will have a brick, stone and vinyl exterior and include a parking lot, landscaped islands and planting strips. During the second phase, Triangle will build a road to connect Ballantyne Commons to Half Moon Trail in the Fox Chase development.

Community Commitment

The construction of this new road raised some concerns from neighbors, who wanted to make sure the natural environment in the area wasn’t disrupted. To replace the trees that will have to be removed to build the road, Triangle agreed to replant 50 trees with each phase of the development, for a total of 100 trees replanted.

Triangle, with properties throughout the Southeast, showed its commitment to the community in a different way in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The storm, that hit Louisiana on August 29, was one of the costliest natural disasters in the history of the United States, with property damage estimated anywhere between $81 billion and $200 billion, depending on the source and the factors taken into consideration. Katrina also left hundreds of thousands of local residents homeless or displaced and almost 2,000 people dead.

Triangle, which owned two apartment complexes in the New Orleans area when the storm hit, started the process of rehabbing its properties as soon as possible, with the goal of giving its tenants the chance to move back in and resume their normal lives.

The work the company was able to accomplish was remarkable, given the environment it was facing. “We renovated over 1,750 units in New Orleans after Katrina,” Ratchford recalls.

The challenges Triangle’s construction crews faced was directly related to having to perform the work in a devastated city that lacked the minimum services required for construction work: running water and electricity. ‘There is a difference between regular  [construction work] and what we had to do after Katrina,” Ratchford explains.

To overcome the unique challenges at hand, the company thought outside the box and came up with creative ideas to accomplish its goal of having its tenant back at home quickly. “The main problem was working without power,” Ratchford recalls. “We put the first compound together, on the east side of New Orleans, working solely with generators. We had five or six military-type generators going, providing electricity to the worksite.”

Triangle’s hard work and creativity paid off and the company was able to have its apartment complexes ready for occupancy even before the city of New Orleans was ready to reinstate water and sewage services.

Shifting Focus

In the five decades Triangle has been in business, the company has built approximately 4,500 apartment units and has renovated thousands more, according to Ratchford.

Triangle currently has 1,100 apartments in different stages of development in several states, from Georgia to North and South Carolina, Louisiana and Virginia. Looking at the future, Ratchford says that the company’s efforts will be focused on new construction and it will phase out its rehabilitation efforts. “From 2001 until 2008, due to a shift in the market, we focused on rehab work [and] we did not build anything from scratch during that time,” he says. “We are now doing both, but we are going to slow down on rehab projects and focus exclusively on new construction in the next couple of years.”

Triangle is also considering expanding its reach outside of the states where it currently operates, and including Tennessee in its portfolio. The company is in the planning stages, trying to find suitable areas for development in the Volunteer State.

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