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Deutsche Bank bids $95M for troubled Epicentre complex in uptown Charlotte

Epicentre
Chris Ballance
/
Flickr
The Epicentre entertainment complex in uptown Charlotte was once the center of the city's nightlife before struggling to keep tenants and patrons in the years leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated 4:20 p.m.

A German investment bank has bid $95 million to buy the troubled Epicentre entertainment complex in uptown Charlotte. The complex was once the center of the city's nightlife but struggled to keep tenants and patrons in the years leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bidding at Tuesday's auction lasted less than a minute, and only one bid was made — from creditor Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas.

The sale is not yet final. Now, Deutsche Bank Trust must wait 10 days, in which other parties can make "upset bids" that are at least 5% higher than the $95 million starting bid. If another bid is made, another 10-day upset bid period will follow.

If no additional bids are made by Aug. 19, the bank will take control of the property.

The auction and $95 million bid are the latest developments in a long saga for the troubled entertainment complex, which opened in 2008 as a major destination in uptown Charlotte.

At its height, the 300,000-square-foot site had bars, restaurants, a nightclub, bowling alley and a movie theater. It was a focal point during the 2012 Democratic National Convention, when MSNBC hosted live broadcasts from its inner plaza, and it was a popular hang-out spot during CIAA tournament weeks and NBA All-Star Games.

But the hotspot began to cool in the years leading up to — and during — the COVID-19 pandemic. The center became mired in negative headlines after a pair of deadly shootings in 2019, and the center began to lose business to a new crop of bars and restaurants that gained popularity in South End.

The center encountered more turmoil during the COVID-19 pandemic, when public health orders barred nightclubs, bars, bowling alleys and movie theaters from opening for several months in 2020, and required restaurants to switch to takeout only.

By 2021, the center was 70% vacant, and the company that owned the complex, CIM Group, defaulted on its $85 million loan.

Foreclosure proceedings began in March 2022, and an auction date was set for May 12, then postponed to July 26, then postponed again to Aug 9.

Plans for the Epicentre's future are uncertain. Deutsche Bank did not immediately respond to a request for information on what it might do with the site if the sale is finalized. The real estate company currently managing the Epicentre, CBRE, said in a statement it would continue to lease and manage the property.

The Epicenter currently lists fewer than 20 tenants on its website, including four restaurants, a CVS, the Bowlero bowling center, and a dental office.

At least one tenant plans to move out by the end of the month. Reached by phone, James Mack, owner of Epic Times Jewelry and Watches, said his business had fallen behind on rent by about $1,100 in recent months, and was told to vacate the Epicentre by Aug. 31.

Mack said business began to decline in 2019, then dropped off entirely when the Epicentre shut down early on in the pandemic.

"When you shut down a place for an extended period of time, that really affects the business," he said.

Even after the Epicentre reopened, Mack said business remained depressed as many major uptown employers like Bank of America and Wells Fargo kept employees home, and when he reached out to clients, many thought his business or the Epicentre as a whole had closed for good.

Mack said he hoped the city or the new owners would invest more in the site. In the meantime, he planned to look for a more profitable space to relaunch his business.

Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal