Mar 22, 2023 - Business

EpiCentre scoop: Instagrammable museum, alcoholic dessert shop and other businesses join redevelopment

Uptown Charlotte’s EpiCentre Queen City Quarter

Rendering courtesy of CBRE

New businesses are coming to Queen City Quarter, formerly known as the EpiCentre, as part of the Uptown destination’s makeover.

  • The newly announced tenants include the expansion of Kannapolis store Nostalgia Hollow Co., frozen dessert shop Super Icy Brothers, a Cajun restaurant and the return of The Portal, a photo-op museum that shuttered during COVID-19.
  • World of Beer, Mortimer’s Café & Pub and Bowlero renewed their leases, property manager CBRE tells Axios. Several other retail deals are under negotiation.

Why it matters: The future of the EpiCentre, once a bumping party destination, has been uncertain since the property turned into a ghost town during the pandemic. The owners defaulted on a loan. Some suggest the building’s unique enclosed design doomed it to failure.

  • Much of the nightlife that once filled the EpiCentre has moved outward to other neighborhoods like South End.
  • The center, which has 50 tenant spaces, reached roughly 70% vacancy.

Yes, but: Its new managers, Dallas-based real estate investment firm CBRE, hope to revive the property as a family-friendly destination.

  • Revitalizing the site could be a major boost for the health of Uptown. It’s in a prime location near the light rail and Spectrum Center.

[Catch up quick: Don’t call it the EpiCentre anymore. Plans reveal a new name, look and purpose]

The four new tenants will move in later this spring and summer. They include:

Portal 123, which is described as a “rotating Instagram museum and immersive art experience.”

  • The museum was originally located on South Tryon Street but closed during the pandemic. Its themed rooms, designed by local artists, make for fun, Instagrammable shots.
  • Portal 123 is slated to reopen at Queen City Quarter this spring in a 3,190-square-foot space where a Bank of America branch used to be.

Nostalgia Hollow Co., a coffee and home goods shop, will open its newest location at Queen City Quarter this summer.

  • It will be located in 1,900 square feet on the first floor where Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina was.
  • The small retailer sells goods including apparel, kitchen and bar items, and gifts.

Cajun Market is a fast-casual, Cajun-Creole restaurant opening its first location in San Diego soon, per CBRE. Charlotte will be its second.

  • The restaurant will open at Queen City Quarter this spring. Its lease is for 1,270 square feet on the first floor, where Grabbagreen once was.

Super Icy Brothers, which is known for its alcohol-infused Italian ice at Carolina Place, has also signed a lease.

  • The shop will occupy a 1,929-square-foot space by summer. It recently closed its location at the Pineville mall.
  • Its menu includes vegan ice cream, smoothies and other desserts like rice crispy treats.

What they’re saying: “There is a lot of excitement and energy surrounding Queen City Quarter,” CBRE associate Kaitlyn Fitch says. “We’re thrilled to welcome four new tenants, as well as many other concepts that are eager to claim their presence in the heart of uptown Charlotte.”

What’s next: CBRE is starting renovations to the property, mainly in its plaza, later this spring.

  • Work includes repainting the entire building, replacing the walkway pavers, and installing benches and planters in the main common area.
  • It will repair the exterior staircases and interior façades as well.
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