BizWorthy: Big Changes Coming To South End; Marketers Push 'BOplex' Rebrand

Nov 7, 2019

More big change is in the works for Charlotte’s South End. Two companies announced last week they’re building a 23-story office tower. Lowe’s is also building an office tower for 2,000 tech workers.

It’s a shift for the neighborhood that for the past several years has been marked by the rise of countless apartment complexes.

Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter joins WFAE "Morning Edition" host Marshall Terry with more on this and other news for this week's BizWorthy.

MARSHALL TERRY: So, Tony, are we likely to see more office towers being announced for South End? 

TONY MECIA: I think we are likely to see more headed to South End. I mean, there's a huge demand for office towers in the uptown and South End area, even though, as you pointed out, there are a number being built. The demand is really outstripping it.

We're seeing a lot more job announcements. We're seeing a lot of tech companies, you know, increasing jobs, wanting to create jobs close to the center city, and so I think we are going to see more of that. There's a tremendous demand.

TERRY: Is there any space for stuff like that in South End?

MECIA: Oh, sure. I mean, there are there are a bunch of different parcels, and, you know, these companies that develop land are looking at it all the time. I mean, there's still a number of different spots I think that they could look at. Now, the land is getting pretty expensive, and so that's sort of one limiting factor.

But the growth and the demand is so tremendous I think you're going to see more. The city is rezoning a bunch of land along the Blue Line that's going to encourage even higher density development.

So, I think this is this is not the end of big office towers in South End. I think you have about eight of these buildings now of 150 feet or higher that have been either announced or under construction in South End. 

TERRY: Well, all the development in South End is giving rise to a problem — traffic and parking. You spoke to several people in that neighborhood. Did they offer any solution to that problem?

MECIA: Well, they don't like it. You know, if you're used to going to South End and being able to easily park on the street and walk to where it is you want to go, that's becoming a lot more challenging. Now, the city has put in meters on a lot of these streets. There's a lot of construction. There's some streets that are closed. You know, it's getting a little more congested.

Now, there are a number of new parking decks that are being built and that are open. Some of these are pay decks. South End is really starting to take on some of the characteristics of uptown in the sense that it's becoming tougher to park. There's a little more traffic, you're going to probably pay to park, but that's sort of part and parcel of what happens when a city grows.

TERRY: Atrium (Health) this week announced regulators should be done reviewing plans for its medical school in Charlotte by early next year. Atrium hasn't released a lot of details about this proposed school since it was announced earlier this spring. So, is this a big step forward then?

MECIA: It sounds like it is. It sounds like what Atrium and Wake Forest have done is they've signed an agreement just to keep this process moving forward. Now, we don't have a lot of the details of that agreement that came out this week and said they're doing a few things.

They made some commitments about what they're actually going to build new things in Wake Forest. There's a lot of concern in Winston-Salem that Charlotte is just going to take this medical school and sort of plant it anew in Charlotte. But they're pretty clear that that's not going to happen, that this is going to be a partnership, that they're going to bring a medical school here. But again, we don't have a lot of these details.

But this is something that they announced last spring that they wanted to work toward. At the time, it was very conceptual, but it sounds like they're hammering out a lot of the details.

TERRY: On to some banking news now. It appears a truce may be coming in a trademark battle involving the planned merger of Winston-Salem's BB&T and Atlanta's SunTrust.

MECIA: Yeah. So this is something that when Truist came out — Truist is a combination of BB&T and SunTrust — and they announced this summer, in June, that they were going to combine and take the name Truist Bank and everybody had a lot of opinions on whether that was a great name or not.

One of the companies that had a pretty strong opinion about it was Truliant Federal Credit Union, which says that the named Truist is too similar to Truliant, and so they sued to say, "Hey, you can't use this name. It's too similar. Our customers are going to be confused." So, it's a lawsuit that's been ongoing, hasn't really gone anywhere.

There was a court filing last week that suggested that the two sides are talking and that they're trying to settle it out of court without having it go before a judge and having it be long and drawn out.

Bojangles' Coliseum is seen in an undated photo off Independence Boulevard in East Charlotte.
Credit JAMES WILLAMOR/FILE

TERRY: Finally, Tony, I have to ask you about the BOplex. That's the nickname being given for the planned combination of Bojangles' Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium. Is this really what we're gonna be calling this thing?

MECIA: Well, it's sort of up to people to determine what they want to call something. Bojangles' has had an agreement with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority to have its name on the Coliseum. — you know, Bojangles' Coliseum.

What happened last year is Bojangles' and the city and the CRVA signed a new marketing agreement that gives Bojangles' the right to name the entire complex. And so, in the last few months, they've on social media and in press releases, sort of quietly started referring to it as the BOplex as part of a marketing arrangement. And the website is BOplex.com. They're tweeting out, "Oh, come see this event at the BOplex." They're certainly trying to push it forward. Again, people will sort of decide whether that's a name they want to use or not.

TERRY: Do you have any sense if it's catching on yet?

MECIA: Well, I don't know. If it does catch on, I don't know if it's catching on honestly or whether it's catching on ironically. The name on its face I think sounds maybe a little bit ridiculous, but it's very catchy. And if you're Bojangles', you know, it's certainly memorable.