Out of ‘triage mode’: Timeline updated for foreclosure of uptown Charlotte Epicentre
The three-story Epicentre at 210 E. Trade St. went into receivership after defaulting on its $85 million loan with lender Deutsche Bank Trust Co. in June
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Epicentre, Charlotte’s once hot spot for night life in uptown, is expected to be foreclosed on by early spring, a court overseeing its receivership was told Tuesday afternoon.
The three-story Epicentre at 210 E. Trade St. went into receivership after defaulting on its $85 million loan with lender Deutsche Bank Trust Co. in June, the Observer previously reported.
During the latest status conference update on Tuesday, Chief N.C. Business Court Judge Louis Bledsoe asked how much longer the receivership will last.
“We’re in the process of implementing the foreclosure,” said James Pulliam, attorney with Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton for the plaintiff Deutsche Bank Trust Co.
Pulliam said arrangements have been made with a local attorney William Kirk Jr. of Kirk Palmer & Thigpen, P.A. as the substitute trustee to secure a hearing date to move forward with the foreclosure. The process takes 90 to 120 days, Pulliam said.
“So we’ll look to complete this (foreclosure) sometime in the first quarter” of next year, he said. The receiver is expected to be discharged by late spring, Pulliam said.
It was not immediately clear what the impact of a foreclosure would be on Epicentre and its businesses.
Sabrina Jones, managing director of real estate and investment firm CBRE Inc., was named as receiver in July. “The last time that we all got together, I reported that we were in triage mode,” Jones said Tuesday. “And I’m very happy to report that the patient has moved to stabilization.”
She said CBRE has focused efforts solely on stabilization of the property and reducing operating expenses since the last court conference meeting in August.
“We still have some opportunities to reduce those operating expenses, which will be good for the tenants because the tenants of the property do reimburse those expenses,” Jones said.
Jones did immediately respond for comment Tuesday after the hearing.
The next N.C. Business Court status conference on the case is scheduled for March 30.
The 302,324-square-foot Epicentre, with 50 tenant spaces, is 30.6% occupied, according to Jones’ latest report in October filed with the N.C. Business Court. That’s up from 29.8% in September’s report, but slightly down from July when it was 31.1% occupied.
Since March 2020 when North Carolina restaurants and entertainment venues were ordered closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of Epicentre businesses closed. Less than 20 retail and service businesses remain.
CIM Group, the Los Angeles-based investment firm that bought Epicentre in 2014 for $130.5 million, previously told the Observer that as a public gathering place focused on dining and entertainment, the pandemic had an “outsized” economic impact.
On Tuesday, Jones detailed what’s been done to stabilize Epicentre:
▪ Tenant and service contracts have been renegotiated. “The property was functioning in such a state where there was undocumented verbal agreements with some of the tenants,” Jones said.
▪ Property improvements are under way, including consulting a structural engineer, removing former tenant signage and abandoned furniture, and repairing vacant spaces so the property is in “showable condition.”
“So if you’ve been to the Epicentre, you will have seen that some of the pavers in the courtyard are in disarray,” Jones said. “We have identified some areas of immediate need and obtained quotes to go ahead and fix those sections of the property.”
▪ Security upgrades continue, according to Jones’ October status report filed last week in N.C. Business Court.
Two years ago, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police increased its presence at Epicentre after several high-profile crimes, including two homicides at or near the complex. An Observer data analysis found police responded to more violent crimes at Epicentre in recent years than at any other commercial or residential location in Charlotte.
“We’re making significant upgrades to the security camera system, and we have not made any reductions in security,” Jones said Tuesday. “And we’ve had some positive activity on the leasing front.”
CBRE’s specialty leasing team also has been consulted for programming, pop up retailers and other income opportunities, according to Jones’ October report.
WHAT’S OPEN, WHAT’S CLOSED
During its 13-year history, Epicentre played a prominent role in uptown as the city’s entertainment destination with a movie theater, bowling, restaurants and nightclubs. It also drew crowds with CIAA parties, the Democratic National Convention and NBA All-Star Game events.
Charlotte Center CIty Partners has discussed potential uses and security concerns in and around uptown Charlotte with CBRE, according to Jones’ October report.
“The Epicentre is an incredibly important center city asset,” said Michael Smith, president of Center City Partners, which is supporting CBRE’s work to reposition the mixed-use center. Smith spoke with the Observer after Tuesday’s hearing.
Epicentre, Smith said, bridges the city’s government and business districts along Tryon and Trade streets, and is near the transit center and Spectrum Center. “It previously enjoyed a really vibrant mix of uses (and) the location is incredibly strategic,” he said.
But during the pandemic, the majority of businesses did not reopen or have since closed, including: Howl at the Moon, Whisky River, Tin Roof, Blackfinn, Firehouse Subs, Jason’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Rootop 210, Suite, Urban Brick’s Pizza, Vault, Vida Cantina and Wild Wing Cafe.
Prior to the pandemic, Studio Movie Grill closed its second-level Epicentre location after seven years.
But several businesses are still open, including Insomnia Cookie, Epic Times jewelry store, Fuji Hibachi and Teriyaki Grill, Flemings Steakhouse, Mortimer’s Cafe, Red Eye Diner, Bowlero, Tailored Smoke and World of Beer, according to the center’s website.
Service businesses still open at the site include CVS, Novant Health, Skyview Dentistry, Seaport Global financial office and State Farm.
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