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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.

Corporate holiday parties are back

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We’re getting into the season of holiday parties. And corporate holiday parties in particular are making a huge comeback this year after they were sidelined because of the pandemic. That’s according to the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter. For more, WFAE's Marshall Terry talks to the Ledger’s Tony Mecia.

Marshall Terry: Tony, so are you saying I need to dig out my ugly Christmas sweater this year?

Tony Mecia: You only have one, Marshall?

Terry: I may have more than one.

Mecia: Well, yeah. I think you will have that opportunity this year. I can't speak for what WFAE might be doing on holiday parties, but a lot of companies are really getting back into holiday parties this year after sort of taking off the last couple of years, largely because of COVID-19.

Now, we saw during the pandemic a lot of the companies, they would do things like they would have virtual parties, maybe send their employees a gift basket or some food, you know, to be able to celebrate together, but do it in a way that was safe.

This year, we've talked to some event planners and these parties are coming back in force. A lot of companies already have their reservations and they say it's now November. It's getting a little bit late to start organizing those. So it looks like they're back in force and you might have an opportunity to dig into your closet and get that sweater.

Terry: Now while the parties themselves may look and feel like we remember before the pandemic, you report the cost of holding these gatherings has really shot up. Is that because of lingering supply chain issues?

Mecia: You know, we've talked before about inflation and the effect of inflation certainly hitting food prices. And we're seeing that across the board, whether it's food, alcohol, event rentals, location rentals, things like that. I mean, those are all going up. Those are being passed along to companies.

But the companies that we talked to said they're still doing it anyway. We're in a tight labor market. They need to find ways to engage with their employees. And so, you know, these things look like they're going back full force.

Terry: Let’s go to the Elizabeth neighborhood now. That’s where a proposal to build a boutique hotel appears to be dead after the community voiced its opposition. What didn’t they like about it?

Mecia: Well, this was a plan to build a 47-room, 73-foot-tall, boutique hotel on Seventh Street in Elizabeth. Some neighbors now, not all, some liked the project. Some, though, said it was too big and out of character with the neighborhood. They didn't like the look of it, and so they had voiced their displeasure at a community meeting, a series of meetings with developers.

The developer has apparently not been able to negotiate an extension of the contract to buy the land. This was subject to rezoning. And so that's a very long process. And so that option to buy the land has apparently expired. And so it looks like that hotel project is not going to be happening in Elizabeth, you know, the next question is, okay, so what might go there? And that's still an unknown.

Terry: One thing I noticed from your article is the "boutel," boutique hotel. That’s what we’re calling these things?

Mecia: That was sort of what the neighborhood had started calling it, a boutique hotel. You know this is sort of one of those things where you run the two words together and call it a "boutel." But there's going to be no boutel hotel at this site in Elizabeth, whatever you want to call it.

Terry: Sticking with development news for a moment, in nearby Plaza Midwood you report a church that recently held its last service is now looking to be redeveloped. Into what?

Mecia: Well, that's sort of the big question. Plaza Presbyterian Church, which is on the corner of the Plaza and Mecklenburg Avenue in Plaza Midwood, held its last regular service in June. It's now looking for ways to reinvent itself.

They say it's not up for sale, but they would like to get a nonprofit in there. Some of the possibilities might include co-working space, cafe, child care, maybe a performing arts venue. This is something we're seeing a lot of in Charlotte as churches are becoming less popular and no longer have congregations, they're looking for ways to redevelop or reinvent themselves. A lot of them have a lot of land. And as you know, there are a lot of developers that like to build apartment complexes, office buildings — things like that. So, yes, this is something that's going on all over town.

Probably the most prominent example is in South Park, where you have SouthPark Church, which used to be Sharon United Methodist. It's now, you know, Apex SouthPark — apartment complexes, Steak 48, Snooze restaurant and a hotel. So you're seeing a lot of different creative combinations. Other places have seen, you know, church buildings knocked down, turned into townhomes. So there's a lot going on on church land.

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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.