CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The new owner of the Excelsior Club is looking for a dream team of Black architects to help redevelop the historic establishment.
The club has remained empty for several years. But now the new owner, Darius Anderson, wants to turn the club into a boutique hotel and other creative space.
The Excelsior Club opened back in 1944. It was the place where African Americans gathered for political and social events. The owner believes Black architects and designers are needed for the job because they understand that culture and will be authentic.
“The developer understands the importance of investing back into African American businesses,” Charlotte City Councilman Malcolm Graham said. “And I don’t see a problem with that.”
Graham represents the area and says more development is on the way for that particular corridor. He says the corridor has basically looked the same since he came to Johnson C. Smith University back in 1981.
“There’s a major economic development project being planned for the corner of Beatties Ford Road and Oaklawn,” Graham said. “You add the Excelsior Club to that - that’s a ripe environment to create the next phase of development along the corridor.”
Darrel Williams, of Neighboring Concepts, is a local black architect. He is helping the owner with the plans and help find talent for the project. The owner wants somebody who has experience in building hotels. Williams says this is a great opportunity for black businesses that sometimes gets overlooked.
“Very few African American developers get to do projects like this,” Williams said. “Major projects - so very rarely.”
Williams also believes this should be a time when the city does an inventory on the conditions of African American monuments and buildings dedicated to black culture.
“I think Charlotte has done a really bad job of keeping historic buildings,” Williams said. “Whether they are related to African American culture or not.”
In two months, the owner would like to have found the Black architects and designers to transform The Excelsior Club. This will be a nationwide search. Graham hopes the new club will be the start of something big for that corridor.
“That should be our black quote unquote Wall Street,” Graham said. “In terms of making sure that we have something historically significant like the historic Johnson C. Smith University - we want doctor’s office, law office, CPA firms.”
Graham also says new projects in the neighborhood like the Street Car along Beatties Ford Road, The Five Point Plaza, the I-77 Bridge project and the Streetscape should be all complete by the end of 2020.
The owner says plans for the Excelsior Club should be complete in about three years.