Axios Charlotte

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January 29, 2024

😌 Happy Monday. It's Alexandria, feeling revived from her winter blues after a somewhat warmer weekend.

πŸ•Ά Weather: Sunny and in the 50s.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to Axios Charlotte members Mark Fisher and Rosemary Ferguson!

Today's Smart Brevityℒ️ count is 719 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: πŸ’Ό Office suburbia is out, mixed use is in

The Towers at Southpark is getting a new façade at 6100 Fairview Rd. Rendering: Crestlight Capital/CBRE

While local officials grapple with how to revitalize empty Uptown towers, suburban office parks across Charlotte have been getting makeovers for years to stay relevant.

Why it matters: Changes to these decades-old properties underscore the demands of the market. Companies want offices with state-of-the-art amenities that are walkable to restaurants, bars, retail, entertainment and housing.

The big picture: The reimagining of Charlotte office parks predates the pandemic-era shift to remote work.

  • Look at Ballantyne Reimagined. The massive, mixed-use transformation of a sprawling corporate park is years in the making.
  • Other real estate firms have pursued similar efforts on a smaller scale.

Here are 3 office properties that are being modernized

2. πŸš— Troublesome Chick-fil-A's drive-thru put to the test

See how there's space for another car there? Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

The Cotswold Chick-fil-A quietly reopened earlier this month after completing renovations intended to speed up its traffic-inducing drive-thru.

Flashback: To the dismay of walkability champions, Charlotte City Council consented to a controversial rezoning last year that allowed Chick-fil-A to permanently close its dining room and be drive-thru only.

  • The company said the reconstruction would address congestion issues on Randolph Road. Previously customers' cars would wrap around the block.

Zoom out: I timed Chick-fil-A's line at the time of the rezoning. It took 16 minutes, including four when I waited in my car on Randolph Road.

  • This past Friday, at exactly 11:30am, I tested the new design. It took six minutes to get my nugs.

πŸ’­ My thought bubble: Let this unscientific study show that the Chick-fil-A is quicker now. There was barely a line on Friday or on Wednesday, just before 4pm, when Axios' Laura Barrero drove by.

Yes, but: Do people know the Chick-fil-A is back in business? When I typed it into Google Maps, it told me the restaurant was "temporarily closed."

  • The bottom line: Will induced demand prevail when customers realize the chicken restaurant is open and, at least for now, faster?

Read why drive-thrus are a point of contention in Charlotte

Sponsored job listings

Your future begins here

πŸ’Ό Check out who's hiring on our Job Board.

  1. Firefighter at Town of Matthews.
  2. Director of Advancement Communications at Queens University of Charlotte.
  3. Food and Beverage Supervisor at Blumenthal Arts.
  4. Student Leadership Development Teaching Fellow at Charlotte Latin School.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

3. πŸ—ž Speed reads

Photo illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

🏟 Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham says the cost of Carolina Panthers' stadium renovations "will be a big dollar amount" that "shocks the conscience." (Ledger πŸ”’)

🐭 Chuck-E-Cheese fans are trying to save the animatronic band at the Pineville-Matthews location. (WSOC)

🌊 Dozens of sea turtles along the coast of North Carolina have died after being stunned by a sudden plunge in temperatures. (Associated Press)

4. πŸ—“ What to do this M-F

South End's Rail Trail Lights will run through Thursday, Feb. 18. The art installation pictured here is from a previous year. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

There are more than 20 things to do in Charlotte this week, from fitness classes to South End's Rail Trail Lights. Axios' McKenzie Rankin has rounded up all the happenings, including:

πŸ€ Cheer on the Hornets tonight at Spectrum Center. | $16+ | 7pm | Details

πŸͺ΄ Paint a planter Tuesday at NoDa Brewing. | $35 | 7-9pm | Details

πŸ–€ Play emo music bingo on Wednesday at NoDa Brewing's North End Taproom. | Free | 6-8pm | Details

πŸ₯™ Take a winter Mediterranean cooking class Thursday at Chef Alyssa's Kitchen. | $75 | 6-9pm | Details

🍿 Watch "The Matrix" at Camp North End's '90s movie series on Friday. | Free | 7:30pm | Details

Full weekday planner

Sponsored messages

πŸŒ€ The loop (we're keeping you in it)

News you can use from our partners.

  • ⚽In case you need another reason to support our hometown football club, Charlotte FC's Promotions schedule is live. Mark your calendars to celebrate Girls + Women in Sports Night on March 23.
  • πŸ’†πŸ’»Need a lift without the downtime? Join a live virtual event with Criswell & Criswell Plastic Surgery and Ellacor on Wednesday evening to learn about the treatment and enter to win MedSpa giveaways. Sign up here.

5. πŸ‘©β€πŸ³ Stat du jour: 440 new restaurants

New restaurants on Yelp per 100k people, 2023
Data: Yelp; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

In the three years after COVID-19 struck, despite growth, the number of new restaurant openings never eclipsed 2019's total.

  • That trend finally changed in 2023, new Yelp data shared with Axios shows.

By the numbers: New restaurant listings rose 16% in the Charlotte area between 2019 and 2023, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • 440 restaurants were newly listed on Yelp in 2023 in the Charlotte area, compared to 379 in 2019.
  • There were 290, 346 and 349 listings in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively.
  • New businesses overall in the Charlotte area increased 73% from 2019.

The big picture: Nationally, the restaurant industry is showing signs of life after a brutal pandemic-induced stretch.

  • Nearly 53,800 restaurants opened their doors across the country last year, up 10% from 2022.
  • Another way of looking at that figure: It's up 2% from 2019, meaning there's been a slight increase in openings nationally compared to prepandemic times.

Go deeper

6. πŸ‘°β€β™€οΈ Just married?

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Hey, newlyweds! We're looking for brides and grooms to feature in our Carolina Wedding Confessionals.

Details: This series dives into the cost of weddings across the Carolinas β€” from the cozy and cost-efficient to the ultra extravagant.

Who's eligible: Anyone married in the last year (January 2023 onward) who also lives in the Carolinas.

What's next: Fill out this survey to be considered.

πŸ—£ Readers had some thoughts on our Instagram about how to fix the city's ghost tower conundrum. A common criticism of Uptown: The parking is too pricey to go there.

  • 🚊 Is this more reason for the Silver Line? Or less, considering the Blue Line exists and people are dismissing it as an option?

πŸ™ Many thanks to Katie Peralta Soloff for editing this newsletter and Lucia Maher for copy editing.