Axios Charlotte

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January 28, 2024

Hello and happy Sunday, Charlotte. It's Katie.

☀️ Weather: 61 and mostly sunny. Finally!

ğŸŽˆ Happy birthday to our Axios Charlotte members Melissa Kimberly and Susan Dawson Smith!

Today's newsletter is 702 words, a 2½-minute read.

1 big thing: 🚂 Gateway Station's progress

A train at Charlotte's Amtrak station on North Tryon. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

I recently rode the train to Raleigh with a few Axios colleagues, and we marveled at how modern and comfortable the city's downtown train station is. We even used some of the tables as a coworking space.

  • The experience got me thinking about Charlotte's planned Gateway Station in Uptown.
Raleigh's downtown train station
Raleigh Union Station opened in 2018. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Flashback: It's been more than a year since the first test trains rolled through Gateway Station, marking the end of the first phase of construction of the Uptown rail hub that'll one day replace Charlotte's outdated Amtrak station on North Tryon.

Why it matters: Gateway Station at Trade and Graham streets will be a large mixed-use project, incorporating hospitality, shops, residential towers and office towers into a multimodal transit center.

  • The station will provide access to city buses and the Gold Line, as well as Amtrak trains, ride-sharing services and the proposed Silver Line light rail and Red Line commuter train.
  • But nearly six years after the project broke ground, key questions remain, including what it'll look like and when it'll be operational for passengers.

Between the lines: Gateway Station's first phase consisted of the state building out infrastructure. You can see the elevated platforms NCDOT completed if you're standing on Graham and Trade, looking away from Uptown toward Johnson & Wales.

  • Its second phase is a public-private partnership among the state, the city and a private development partnership with Charlotte-based The Spectrum Companies and Republic Metropolitan.

What he's saying: "It's progressing nicely, and we are looking forward to getting to the point where we can share where we are with everybody," Joe Bender, ReMet's director of commercial development, told Axios.

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2. ⚡️ Biz lightning round

1900 W. Morehead St. Photo: Courtesy of Copper Builders

Copper Builders, a Charlotte homebuilder, has moved its headquarters from SouthPark to 1900 W. Morehead St., a sleek FreeMoreWest office building that's also occupied by Beauxwright, a real estate investment and development firm, and the architecture firm BB+M, per a company statement.

Bank of America has been sending warning letters to employees who haven't been complying with the bank's back-to-office policies. (🔒 CBJ)

The Federal Trade Commission has sued to block Novant Health's $320M purchase of Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville and Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville, arguing the deal would raise prices and could result in worse outcomes for patients. (🔒 Charlotte Ledger)

IWG has signed a lease for 40,000 square feet across two floors in the 23-story First Citizens Bank Plaza in Uptown. The coworking company will operate in Charlotte under its SPACES brand, according to a statement from CBRE, which arranged the lease.

3. 🚀 Bojangles' growth

Photo: Alivia McAtee/Axios

Charlotte-based Bojangles has big expansion plans once again.

What's happening: The popular chicken chain plans to open 270 new restaurants, bolstering its current restaurant total by 33%, Business North Carolina reported.

  • Last year, the company opened 40 new restaurants, including several in new markets like Dallas, Columbus and Orlando, per BNC.
  • LVP Restaurant Group LLC plans to open 20 Bojangles restaurants in Las Vegas, plus several more across the West.

Why it matters: Bojangles is a regional chain with a cult-like following. Its expansion plans will test the appetite for the brand in other parts of the country.

Flashback: Over the years, Bojangles, which was bought in 2019 by Jordan Co. and Durational Capital Management, has expanded into new markets with mixed results.

  • When the company went public in 2015, pressured by Wall Street's drive for growth, Bojangles laid out a plan that included filling out its core in the Carolinas, then expanding into new markets.
  • By the next year, however, a franchisee had closed eight restaurants in Orlando, I reported for the Observer in 2016.
  • "We love Florida. It's just not going to be anytime soon that we go back to Orlando," then-CEO Clifton Rutledge told analysts at the time.

🍕 Check out this story in The Atlantic by Axios Southern bureau chief Michael Graff, who wrote that pizza delivery drivers are a "dying breed" in this DoorDash world we're living in. (He discussed this recently on Bomani Jones' podcast, too.)

  • Michael delivered pizzas for Domino's in college in the '90s, and I think he's right when he says the pizza delivered back then somehow just seemed better than it is today.

This newsletter was copy edited by Amy Stern.