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Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Uptown’s Epicentre sold at auction

Ana Lucia Murillo

A new chapter has begun for uptown Charlotte’s Epicentre. The complex that was once the center of uptown nightlife garnered a bid of $95 million from Deutsche Bank during a foreclosure auction this week. It was the only bid for the property. That’s according to the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter. For more, WFAE's Marshall Terry talks to the Ledger’s Cristina Bolling.

Marshall Terry: Cristina remind us if you will how Epicentre got here? I mean this was the uptown hotspot for several years after it opened in 2008.

Christina Bolling: Yeah. If you've been in Charlotte for a little while, you remember what the Epicentre was like here. I mean, there was, you know, it was a clubbing hotspot. We had a Whiskey River, which was owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. We had Howl at the Moon. There was Bubble. People went bowling there.

You know what happened to it, remember that it did open in 2008, just unfortunately in time for the recession to hit. And then, you know, in 2016, there were a lot of protests around the Keith Lamont Scott shooting. And so, you know, windows were broken there. There was bad publicity. And in 2019, it kind of got worse. A visiting CEO was killed by a stray bullet not far from the Epicentre. And that just sort of had a lot of bad repercussions in terms of publicity and how people saw that area. So then COVID hit, which was not good for business anywhere. And kind of here we were.

Terry: Are you surprised that only one bid for the property came in?

Bolling: I guess I was a little surprised. I mean, you know, so Deutsche Bank entered this minimum bid of $95 million and it essentially locked out anyone who was interested in getting the property for a lower price. It was interesting to see who showed up at the auction at the courthouse this week. You know, there was one guy who said he was looking at it for an investment for a pro football league he wanted to start.

Terry: What happens next and any idea what will become of the property?

Bolling: This sale to Deutsche Bank is not quite a done deal yet. There is a required ten-day upset bid period. So really the soonest that the bank could take ownership is August 22 during the next ten business days and another potential buyer could file a new bid at the county clerk's office. So, I mean, in terms of what it will look like in the future, your guess is as good as mine as to what will go there. There's been talk of people wanting more upscale retail in uptown. So whether that happens really is anybody's guess.

Terry: Sticking with development news for a moment, there are plans to build to about 700 homes and townhomes off North Tryon Street and Old Concord Road in the University area. And WCCB this is week is reporting that some nearby residents are pushing back against the plans. What’s their opposition?

Bolling: You know, it seems like a case, Marshall, where neighbors just they like the peace and quiet that they have in the area right now and they just don't want a whole bunch of new houses there. You know, this type of opposition is really common when big housing developments are proposed, big housing developments bring traffic. They bring school crowding, construction hassle while they're being built and all that kind of thing. So it sounds like that really is what the area residents are kind of pushing back on.

Terry: Switching gears now, Charlotte is getting yet another bank. What can you tell us about Bank of London’s announcement this week?

Bolling: Yeah. So Bank of London, which of course, is headquartered in the U.K., announced this week that it's putting its U.S. Headquarters here in Charlotte. The plan is for 350 new jobs to come to Charlotte. And the bank signed an 11-year lease for 40,000 square feet of office space uptown. And that'll be at the One Independence Center building at the corner of Trade and Tryon.

Terry: Any idea why? Why, Charlotte? Just because all the other banks are here.

Bolling: Yeah. So basically I think that they said that they are we're interested in Charlotte because we have a lot of kind of tech jobs and also obviously a very thriving financial sector. So I think the combination of those two industries here in Charlotte really made them interested in our city.

Terry: Let’s go to the South End for a moment. The banquet hall and events center Byron’s South End is closing after 20 years. I thought event spaces were rebounding from the pandemic. So what’s going on?

Bolling: Oh, yeah. Well, so Byron's is not closing because of lagging business. In fact, really, just the opposite is happening. Event halls will tell you that they are busier than ever with all the events and weddings and galas and things that have been postponed for the last two years being rescheduled this year. So it's not closing because the business is down.

What happened in the case of Byron is that the property owner, which is Asana Partners, did not offer the option of signing a new lease when the current lease expires at the end of April. You might remember that Asana Partners is the company behind a lot of what's been built in South End over the last few years. They built Superica, Barcelona Wine Bar and some other businesses there. And there's a sense that maybe they want to go in a different direction than an event space in that pretty sizable location that Byron's takes up right now.

Terry: Finally, the popular Optimist Hall food court near uptown has announced parking will no longer be free after 90-minutes. Is this simply a money grab or is it an attempt to free up spaces in what seems to be an always-packed parking lot?

Bolling: People have been debating this hotly on social media all week. It is true that parking can be a real issue at Optimist Hall, especially during the weekends and peak times. People go there to get a quick drink. They go there to watch a sports game. Some people bring their laptops and they park all day and they use it kind of as a coworking space. And so, you know, this all affects people in different ways. Some folks are looking at it as a money grab because Optimist Hall does have a lot of people who will go there and will pay the amounts that, you know, are being charged for parking. But you can also see it as a tactic just to get people moving through and to be able to sort of serving more people who are going to want to come.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.