Don’t call it the epicenter anymore. Blueprints Reveal New Name, Appearance, and Purpose
Over the next year, the near-vacant epicenter will transform into an upscale destination called “Queen City Quarter,” the new property managers have promised.
CBRE, the court-appointed receiver during the lockdown, continues to market and lease the former nightlife venue and has announced plans to transform it.
What is happening: It won’t be the nightlife spot you’re used to. Instead, CBRE has a “very intentional rental strategy” to create a more upscale, family-friendly environment, says Sabrina Jones, who leads property management.
- He will soon close a few transactions, but it is still too early to name tenants, she adds. CBRE is interested in, among other things, high-end retailers and restaurants. CBRE also wants to activate common spaces with tenant programming and the arts.
Why is this important: The COVID-19 pandemic has left the epicenter deserted, at a time when the South End was already pulling youthful nightlife in a different direction and day office workers were moving into the distance.
- The property, now barely reminiscent of the bustling hotspot it once was, has done little to revitalize Uptown amid the pandemic.
- The center’s future came up in executive conversations about major nearby projects, such as the redevelopment of the Charlotte Transit Center.
What they say : “We want to take advantage of the daytime population density and also make it a destination amenity for the community,” Jones said. “And we’re surrounded by a lot of really great hotels. So when people come to visit, we want them to have a place to eat and have a cocktail before going to a show and to be a one-stop-shop for tourists.
Details: Queen City Quarter will be fresh, modern and bright, says Jones. “We don’t want to make it look like an old Times Square anymore.
The property transformation works will include:
- Ongoing repairs to the yard, parking garage, patios and roof – all to be completed by the end of the year
- Renovations of public stairs and escalators in 2023
- New landscaping, lighting and benches
- Fresh paint in common areas
- Removal of signs from former tenants
- An improved camera system that produces clearer images, replacing outdated technology. There is also now a 24/7 control room, and 12-20 security officers on site at a time with the power to arrest suspects. CBRE is also working closely with CMPD and Center City Partners, Jones said.
The context: At the height of the pandemic, the owner of the epicenter defaulted on an $85 million loan. CBRE interviewed and was selected for judicial receivership.
- Jones says the lender, Deutsche Bank Trust Co., was looking for a receiver who believed the estate could be straightened out and was committed to the “long term.”
- In August, the bank launched the only $95 million offer for the property, which kept it in the hands of the lender and under the management of CBRE.
- “We kind of expected that to be the case,” Jones says.
Rollback: The epicenter has had its ups and downs since it opened in 2008, from surviving the Great Recession to hosting events for the Democratic National Convention. It’s a prime location within walking distance of Charlotte’s biggest attractions, but that also puts it close to violent crime and protests that have shattered glass and cast a shadow over the property, especially in recent years. Charlotte wrote the magazine.
- In 2010, the owner of the complex declared bankruptcy and the developer relinquished ownership in 2012. The bank is now its third owner.
And after: Jones says CBRE is in talks with the remaining tenants, such as Red Eye Diner and Word of Beer, on extending leases to participate in the center’s next phase.
- She adds that it will host pop-up retailers in its vacant spaces, which make up 70% of the building, while renovations are underway.