Rebranding for Charlotte's Epicenter and YMCA programs, more development in Kannapolis
Charlotte's Epicenter is back in the headlines. A new developer has some changes in mind for the 300,000 square foot entertainment area, as well as a rebranding. For more on what the move means for uptown, WFAE's Woody Cain speaks to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger business newsletter for our segment BizWorthy.
Cain: So, Tony, there sure have been a lot of ups and downs for the Epicenter. What's the latest now?
Mecia: There have been a lot of ups and downs. You might recall the Epicenter, once a thriving hotspot of uptown nightlife, fell into disrepair. A lot of tenants leaving. There were some high-profile shootings. It's now about 70% vacant. It was sold out of foreclosure earlier this year. Now, the real estate company CBRE says it has a plan for it.
It's going to try to get in some new tenants. It has a new name. They're going to call it Queen City Quarter, going to put on some new paint, some repairs. The goal, I think, is to get more tenants in. They're going to beef up security. They're going to focus less on nightlife and more on making it a family-friendly destination, restaurants and retail, that sort of thing.
I still think it's going to be kind of challenging for the Epicenter, Woody, because they're not really that close to very many residential developments. And if I'm a retailer, I don't know. I don't know if this is going to turn it around, but I think it seems like it's worth a shot.
Cain: I guess then they're counting on uptown worker traffic.
Mecia: It sounds like that's a lot of it. You know, maybe people go to lunch or grab a beer or dinner after work. I think they're counting on tourists and conventioneers. You know, the convention center is just down the street.
So, you know, as opposed to sort of a pulsating music coming out of late night hotspots and, you know, karaoke, Howl at the Moon, Whisky River, you know, some of these places people from Charlotte will identify with, I think they're going to move away from that and try and make it a little more, like I say, family-friendly.
Cain: OK. Another big development outside of uptown also has a Charlotte angle with a company called Insite buying up lots of property around the North Carolina Research Park in Kannapolis. It almost feels like the mascot for Kannapolis these days should be a construction helmet. So what's ahead? What's going on there?
Mecia: Well, it's funny when you say mascot in Kannapolis and helmet, my mind goes to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, you know, which is the minor league baseball team that plays there in downtown. But, yes, a lot of construction helmets there, too.
I don't know how many people have been to downtown Kannapolis in the last 20 years, but it's been pretty remarkable the turnaround that they've had there. It used to be the old Fieldcrest Cannon and then Pillowtex, you know, textile plants and headquarters. But over the last couple of decades, it's really transformed into a research center office space. They've done a lot of work on the downtown and now Insite says they're going to come in. The city says that they're going to build 800,000 square feet of office and medical research facilities, 47,000 square feet of retail and 1,200 residential units there in downtown. So certainly, you know, if that comes to fruition, sounds like it'll be more growth in development for Kannapolis' downtown.
Cain: Elsewhere, I see the Ledger has a story about a new tool, or at least new to them, that some realtors are using that might help reach some younger potential buyers. What are they doing?
Mecia: Yeah, there are some realtors that are using social media tools. We profiled one realtor who is using Tik Tok, walking through houses, talking about inspections and crawl spaces and things like that. I mean, a lot of businesses are kind of moving onto there. But as for realtors, they now have a lot more tools in their toolbox for how to market. My father-in-law is a real estate agent. And, you know, he used to go hand out calendars and recipe books, you know, mailbox by mailbox in different neighborhoods. And now a lot of that has moved online. And so, a lot more ways to market in this hot real estate market.
Cain: And I noticed you also have a story about a change in a popular YMCA program. What's up?
Mecia: Yeah, a lot of your listeners might be familiar with the Y Guides program. Used to be called Indian Princesses or Indian Guides, was run by the YMCA, had Native American lingo and images and traditions. You know, you would say how-how to fellow members of your tribe. They were called tribes. You to go to, you know, a longhouse at Camp Thunderbird, Camp Harrison, another YMCA camp.
The Y has now dropped the Native American terminology, which I think has been an issue over the last several years, certainly, you see it a lot with sports teams. We reached out to the Y for an explanation about why they're doing that. The Y did not get back to us. But, you know, it would seem as though, nowadays in 2022, using that kind of lingo and images isn't up with the times. And so they're giving it a more neutral name. They're now going to call them Adventure Guides. The heads of each group are now going to be called chiefs, they're going to be called captains, things like that.
Cain: I want to close with this because if this has made our listeners eager for some more, Tony, they'll get their chance at lunchtime today. I see where you and our own Steve Harrison from WFAE and Eli Portillo of UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute, are going to have an online chat today about transit and transportation in the Charlotte area. I can't imagine you guys will have anything to talk about there, right? It's been a busy, busy time for them.
Mecia: There's a lot going on. We have a great partnership with WFAE and UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute, which we put out a weekly newsletter on transit and transportation. So Steve, Eli and I are going to take reader questions. We're going to have a dialog for about 30, 45 minutes starting at noon today. If people want to sign up for that, they can find out more at TransitTimeCLT.com.
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