BizWorthy: Despite Pandemic, Film Production Was Up Slightly In Charlotte Over Last Year
Like most businesses, the film industry has suffered during the pandemic. The North Carolina Film Office said productions statewide are expected to spend about a third less this year than they did last year. Film spending in the Charlotte region, though, actually increased slightly this year to $20 million, according to the Charlotte Regional Film Commission. For more, we turn to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter for our segment, BizWorthy.
Marshall Terry: Tony, we mentioned a few weeks ago a new Hallmark Christmas movie was shot in Charlotte this year, but there were other movies, too?
Tony Mecia: Yeah, Marshall, there've been a number of productions in Charlotte — movies, made-for-TV, movies, commercials, documentaries, those sorts of things. You don't really hear a lot about them. They tend to be smaller productions. They're not on the big scale, like some of the movies that have been filmed here in the past — "Talladega Nights," "Shallow Hal" They tend to be smaller just because of the nature of the tax incentives that North Carolina offers, but there have been a few.
There's the Hallmark movie that you mentioned, but there have been other ones, too. Oprah Winfrey's network is shooting a series called "Delilah." There have been other productions. There's one called "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," scheduled for release next year. There's an independent film called "Goodbye Butterfly." And then commercials shot by Toyota, Hasbro and others. So we do see some of that filming going on here. It tends to be smaller and they don't typically attract a lot of attention.
Terry: Tony, for the past year, we've talked about a huge redevelopment that's in the works for Ballantyne. And you report the developer behind that project just filed its most detailed plans yet. What's in them?
Mecia: It's a Northwood Office which owns the Ballantyne Hotel and the corporate park there in Ballantyne. They're planning to redevelop a lot of that land behind the Ballantyne Hotel that's now a golf course. And so it's planning a mixed-use development, a couple thousand apartments, retail space. So they've been laying out plans with the city for the last few weeks, submitting some plans.
It basically lays out — this might not be great radio here, Marshall — but it lays out a map of where exactly the new streets are going, where exactly the apartments are going, where the retail's going. A stream park, an eight-acre stream park along the creek. Put in an amphitheater sort of on the northern part of the of the development.
It looks like they're moving ahead with that. But that's going to start moving, I'm guessing, in the next few months. There's going to be a lot going on in Ballantyne coming up in the next few months.
Terry: Last week, we talked about the social media backlash to the new Truist sign on the old Hearst Tower uptown. And now the architect of that building has weighed in. And it turns out he's not a fan of the sign either.
Mecia: Right. So there's been a little bit of a backlash against some of the signs that Truist put up on that building. There's a petition that's been circulating online. And one of the people that signed that petition is named Chuck Hall, who was a principal in the Atlanta architecture firm, Smallwood, who was the lead architect on that building. It was designed as the Hearst Tower, Bank of America was an original tenant in there.
And he thinks that the signs — he doesn't like the look of the signs. He says he's disappointed to see the building "vandalized" — that was his word — with those signs. And he says that he wishes that Truist would put more of an emphasis on corporate citizenship than on corporate ego. So some pretty strong words about those new Truist signs on that big uptown building.
Terry: Tony, we've saved the best for last. There's an update in the long-running property dispute between wealthy neighbors at Charlotte's Quail Hollow Country Club. Former Congressman Robert Pittenger and Lending Tree CEO Doug Lebda. Remind us quickly, if you will, what the beef is and then give us the latest.
Mecia: Sure. Those two, they're next door neighbors on the 15th hole of Quail Hollow in the Gleneagles area. It's sort of a "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" type of neighborhood. You have a bunch of other people there -- (Panthers owner) David Tepper just bought a home there. (Car dealership owner) Felix Sabates has a home there. There's a lot of well-known Charlotte people in that neighborhood.
Pittenger and Lebda have had a property dispute that's been going on for about three years or so when Lebda decided to build a 15,000-square foot, 2 1/2-story house right next to Pittenger's. And Pittenger said, well, it's too big. It's too close to his house. He said that the homeowner's association improperly allowed the house to be too big. So he sued. That's been a lawsuit that's been ongoing for the last several years.
And finally, a judge this week came out and dismissed the case, said that the homeowner's association was within its rights to allow those features on Lebda's house and sided with Lebda. But we are still waiting to see whether Pittenger files an appeal.
Terry: Thanks, Tony.
Mecia: Thanks, Marshall.
Terry: That's Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.