As Epicenter faces potential foreclosure for overdue debt, the shopping and entertainment complex has played a prominent role in upscale neighborhoods over its 13-year history.
The three-story center on the site of the old convention center in the city center was seen as the key to the redevelopment of the upper town. Epicenter included a cinema, bowling alley, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs.
But the coronavirus pandemic has hit the site hard, with many tenants permanently closed. And, the owner of the Epicenter faces foreclosure for missed debt payments, according to a lawsuit filed in Mecklenburg County Court.
The start of Epicenter was embroiled in court cases and bankruptcy from the start, though the venue flourished by drawing crowds like CIAA parties and the Democratic National Convention and NBA All-Star Game events, becoming a popular nightlife destination in the city.
Here’s a timeline of some highlights of Epicenter history from the Charlotte Observer archives:
2008: A grand opening
Epicenter opened in 2008 in one block from College and Trade streets. It was considered by the municipal authorities as an important part of the redevelopment of the upper town.
Epicenter’s first bar, Whiskey River, was owned by NASCAR driver and team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. As more businesses opened there were usually long lines, with some waiting longer. of one hour.
When it opened, Michael Smith, president of Charlotte Center City Partners, predicted that the Epicenter “will support the entire hospitality industry in the long term.”
The Epicenter Project was mired in court battles after its original lender, Regions Bank, began foreclosure proceedings in July 2010 after a $ 94 million construction loan matured. The two limited liability companies that owned the complex – Pacific Avenue and Pacific Avenue II – have filed for bankruptcy, delaying the foreclosure.
Charlotte-based Vision Ventures and Mount Vernon Asset Management, working through an affiliate group called Blue Air 2010, purchased the resort’s $ 94 million note in November 2010.
But a year later, Blue Air sued the developers, accusing them of wrongly embezzling money from the entertainment complex before filing for bankruptcy.
The allegations also included allegations of self-operation, falsified accounting, and numerous false statements in court, claims the developers denied. A federal judge ordered original developer Afshin Ghazi to sign documents waiving all of his ownership interests in the complex.
2012: Getting out of bankruptcy
Epicenter came out of bankruptcy with new owner Blue Air 2010. The developers who designed the mixed-use project, Afshin Ghazi and George Cornelson III, were no longer tied to the project. The developers struck a deal with Blue Air agreeing to each pay $ 1.5 million, used to pay off creditors, and relinquished ownership of the EpiCentre.
2012: The DNC projectors
When Charlotte landed at the Democratic National Convention, the epicenter was the scene of many hot tickets, parties, performances and other events surrounding the rally in early September.
The Epicenter had also undergone millions of dollars in renovations before the DNC arrived in town. At the epicenter, CNN and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” set in and there was also a “CNN Grill” on site that took over the site of a former Mexican cantina.
Newt Gingrich, then the Republican presidential candidate, also passed through the center that year on his campaign tour to stop at Enso Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar.
2013: announcement of the hornets
NBA commissioner David Stern said in July 2013 that the Bobcats would return to being the Hornets before the 2014-15 season. Thousands of people gathered at the epicenter where the ad ran with an all-day celebration of Charlotte’s basketball history and future.
2014: Sign for sale
Investment group Blue Air has put the 305,000-square-foot resort up for sale after $ 23 million in renovations to the five-building complex. At the time, it was 94% leased and 70% of its rental income came from 16 restaurants.
California real estate group CIM Group bought the property for $ 130.5 million.
2016: Parties and concerts
Epicenter drew crowds for parties like the Bud Light Super Bowl Pep Rally and Alive After Five, a free weekly concert series, in 2016. The Panthers had made the Super Bowl that year, but fell in Denver 24- 10.
2019: NBA All-Star Game festivities
The Epicenter was touted as the â# 1 fan destinationâ during NBA All-Star Game Weekend in February. The game was played at the nearby Spectrum Center
The Epicenter featured games, parties, player appearances, panel discussions and other events for three days.
2019: High-profile crimes
In April 2019, one person was stabbed at the SUITE nightclub, and an argument at an Epicenter restaurant continued on College Street, where a man was shot and killed.
In October, John Holaday was shot dead while walking near the epicenter. Police said he may have been hit by a bullet fired inside the dining and entertainment complex.
In November 2019, as many Epicenter businesses closed overnight, two people were shot dead, one fatally by police after a call about “gunfire” at the center.
From 2017 to 2019, police reported 54 violent crimes at the epicenter – the highest number for any business in the city during that time period, according to an analysis by Charlotte Observer.
2020-2021: Closures in the event of a pandemic, possible lockdown
Even before businesses in North Carolina were ordered to shut down in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Epicenter lost its cinema on the second floor. Studio Movie Grill shut down the site on March 2 citing “an unusual number of operational challenges.”
An exhaustive list of businesses has not reopened, from Whiskey River to Tin Roof, Blackfinn Ameripub and Vida Cantina.
And, last week, Deutsche Bank Trust Co. filed a lawsuit in Mecklenburg County Court to appoint a receiver and special proceeding to foreclose the property after the owner of Epicenter failed to make multiple payments. on his $ 85 million loan.