Uptown Charlotte Epicenter Possible Sale Date Announced

Charlotte’s downtown entertainment complex, Epicenter, could go up for auction in May and get a new name and new tenants, officials said during an update on the case Wednesday in the Commercial Court. from North Carolina.

James Pulliam, representing Deutsche Bank Trust Co., said Lawyers for North Carolina Business Court Chief Judge Louis Bledsoe have an attempt sale date of May 2 at 2 p.m. However, no notice of sale has yet been filed.

Earlier this month, Epicenter began foreclosure proceedings but no time frame was given for a sale date.

Nearly 10 months ago, Epicenter at 201 E. Trade St. went into receivership after defaulting on its $85 million loan from lender Deutsche Bank Trust Co. during the COVID pandemic. Only a handful of companies remain.

The 302,324-square-foot epicenter, with 50 tenant spaces, is less than 30% occupied, according to receiver Sabrina Jones’ February report filed with the NC Business Court. Jones, chief executive of CBRE Inc., was named Epicenter’s receiver in July, serving as the property’s manager and leasing agent.

On Wednesday, Jones said the center would also be renamed and renderings of the center’s new design are expected to be announced soon, along with new tenants. Jones did not provide a specific timeline for the changes.

“We’re demarcating the center and removing the signs,” Jones said. “It’s up with positive conversations we’ve had with exciting new tenants that we hope to announce in the coming months.”

Ongoing updates to the property include major repairs and maintenance projects, including ‘repairing pavers in the yard, upgrading security cameras, cleaning parking lot and removing signage former tenants. Additional work is planned for escalators, exterior stairs and parking,” according to Jones’ report.

“This is just the beginning of the capital investment and the refreshing of the centre,” she said.

She said safety remains a concern at Epicenter and in downtown Charlotte. Epicenter employs 12 to 20 armed and unarmed security guards daily, she said.

“We are doing our part to make sure the Epicenter is as safe as possible for the center’s customers and tenants,” she said.

What happens next?

Once the courts receive a notice of sale, an auction will be held on the first floor of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. After the initial sale is complete, there is a 10-day period during which “surprise offers” are accepted, according to the Mecklenburg County Superior Court Assistant Clerk’s Office.

After the sale of a foreclosed property, another party may make a higher bid on the property, called an upset auction, according to North Carolina law.

Business owner wants to stay in Epicenter

After weathering the COVID pandemic and news of the Epicenter lockdown, Epic Times business owner James Mack told the Observer on Tuesday in downtown Charlotte and that pedestrian traffic in the center is “like a desert”.

Before the pandemic, 2020 was shaping up to be the 7-year-old jewelry and watch store’s best year ever, Mack said. With only a few businesses remaining at Epicenter, Mack said he couldn’t keep store staff going without more walk-in customers. It is therefore only open by appointment.

“It’s absolutely slowed down to a point where the last two or three months we haven’t done anything. There was a time when we all used to make money,” he said. “I feel frustrated and a bit taken by surprise by the situation.”

Mack said he was worried about the future of Epicenter, jeopardizing his business and years of hard work. He would also like more support from the city to help maintain and promote small businesses in the downtown area.

“I never imagined a city would allow part of the city to crumble like this,” Mack said. “We have been fighting to stay open for two years.

With a month-to-month lease, Epic Times could leave Epicenter, but Mack said he hasn’t found an opportunity to relocate to Charlotte. In the meantime, Mack is changing brands and launching its own line of fine jewelry and leather goods. Last week, he opened a second boutique, called James Mack, in Miami. Yet he has no intention of leaving Charlotte.

“It’s always been my goal to grow and be a national brand,” Mack said. “I feel like I have to wait to see what happens. I can’t give up.”

History of the epicenter

Epicenter opened in 2008 in one block at College and Trade streets on the former site of the convention center. It included a cinema hall, a bowling alley, hotels, restaurants and discotheques. It was part of the city’s redevelopment plan and attracted the attention of CIAA parties, the Democratic National Convention, and NBA All-Star Game events.

But Epicenter’s history has been tumultuous from the start, with lawsuits and bankruptcy even as the venue flourished as a popular nightlife destination in the city.

Epicenter’s first bar, Whiskey River, was owned by NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr.. As more businesses opened, people often waited more than an hour in long lines to enter businesses.

CIM Group, the Los Angeles-based investment firm that bought Epicenter in 2014 for $130.5 million, previously told the Observer that the pandemic was having an “outsized” economic impact on the resort.

On Wednesday, Epicentre’s online business directory lists 18 retail and service companies, including Bowlero, CVS, Epic Times jewelry, Fuji, Insomnia Cookies, Mortimer’s Cafe & Pub, Red Eye Diner, Tailored Smoke and World of Beer.

This story was originally published March 30, 2022 3:24 p.m.

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Catherine Muccigrosso is a retail journalist for The Charlotte Observer. An award-winning journalist, she has worked for several newspapers and McClatchy for over a decade.

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