Jul 5, 2022 - Development

What readers want to see at the EpiCentre after it’s auctioned off

Epicentre

Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

The EpiCentre auction is approaching. 

What’s happening: It will be auctioned off at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on Aug. 9 at 10am after it was postponed in May. 

  • The EpiCentre will go to the highest bidder “as is,” per court documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The once buzzing Uptown space housed places to eat, drink and play. But it endured financial woes and its tenants struggled to hang on during the pandemic, as Axios’ Katie Peralta Soloff and Laura Barrero reported.

The big picture: We asked readers what they wanted to see in the EpiCentre once the dust settles, and yes, many in our newsroom have their fingers crossed for a Zara.

Queens Bridge Collective, on the former Midnight Diner/Uptown Cabaret site
Rendering courtesy of Riverside

Of note: No reader asked for another brewery.

Here’s what readers had to say. Note: Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Fill it with clothes

“Yes, a Zara would be excellent! And fill that building with many clothing stores and things like that. Charlotte lacks a shopping street.” -Brau E. 

“Yes. I would love to see a Zara. I am a baby boomer, but a trendy one.” Linda S.

More than clothes

“Yes, a Zara, and how about a Monkee’s, too. A jewelry store, a Williams Sonoma? How about any place to buy some clothes that isn’t a teenager mall knock-off. There are a lot of us living Uptown now that can grocery shop and do dentist, doctor, etc. but we can’t buy clothes, shoes, etc.” Christine A. 

Life is a cabaret

Urban Sweets. Axios archives

“A hot take but I really think Uptown Cabaret should relocate to the old Bubble, Suite or Howl at the Moon locations when they have to close down their current spot. I think it would be good for UC, Epicentre and Charlotte ‘party tourism.'” -Rob S. 

Of note: Chicago firm Riverside Investment & Development has a $750 million, three-tower development planned where Midnight Diner and Uptown Cabaret currently sit, as Katie reported.

Give them nightlife

“I would love for nightlife to return to the center of the city!” -Kyree S.

Support small businesses 

Kristen Stewart wants to see the EpiCentre transformed into a small business opportunity center, with small retail and restaurants in units between 300 and 1,000 square feet. Rent would be less than $2,500 per space.

Resources for small business owners are also part of her vision for the space, such as:

  • Accounting, legal and public relations services for an additional $500 per month for business owners.
  • Business classes and mentoring from agencies like SCORE or LISC would be mandatory.
  • The EpiCentre would also partner with Central Piedmont Community College and other agencies to promote job placement opportunities.
  • Plus they would work with Charlotte Center City Partners for support and promotion.

Stewart, who will open an ice cream shop, Urban Sweets, in South End this month, shared the difficulty she had in finding a space for her business that she could afford and that was interested in her business concept.

  • “As our city grows, commercial real estate rental prices are growing at an accelerated rate making it difficult for local concepts to have retail and restaurant spaces,” she told Axios via email.
  • “If some of those barriers, like upfitting [spaces], are removed and business services are shared, small businesses will thrive again, professional service providers will see increases in business all while a valuable asset of Charlotte will be renewed,” she added. 

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on July 5, 2022 and was updated on July 25, 2022 to include new information about the EpiCentre’s auction date. 

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