July 17, 2024

Uptown Charlotte’s EpiCentre has a new name to go along with what will soon be a complete facelift. The 302,324-square-foot mixed-used complex at 210 E. Trade St. is now called Queen City Quarter.
CBRE, a Dallas, Texas-based commercial real estate management and investment firm, took over the property in receivership last year. The firm announced today the rebranding and renovation plans that have been in the works since that time.
The vision is to make Queen City Quarter a community gathering place that people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy, Sabrina Jones, CBRE managing director of property management in North Carolina, told Charlotte Business Journal. “We started working with Street Sense and other stakeholders within the lender very early on, and it’s exciting to be in a position to finally share those plans because they’ve been in the works for a really long time.”
The property went up for public auction at Mecklenburg County Courthouse on Aug. 9, after two delays dating back to May and a lengthy foreclosure process. The only bid came from creditor Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) at $95 million. Deutsche Bank foreclosed on the property this past spring.
EpiCentre was owned by Los Angeles-based commercial real estate firm CIM Group prior to the foreclosure, purchasing the property in 2014 for $131 million. CIM defaulted on its $85 million mortgage last summer. Attempts to reconcile the debt failed. In March, Mecklenburg County Superior Court approved Deutsche Bank Trust Co.’s foreclosure.
Queen City Quarter is currently about 30% leased and includes longtime tenants such as Red Eye Diner, Bowlero, Mortimer’s Cafe and Pub and World of Beer. Jones said most of the current tenants will remain in place as CBRE works to lease the vacant space.
CBRE’s Kivett Williams is the retail marketing and leasing broker; Kris Westmoreland is handling office leasing. Currently, 12,000 to 20,000 square feet of traditional and creative office space is available.
Jones said CBRE is in active conversations with several potential tenants, though she couldn’t give specifics.
“We’re really being intentional with our leasing strategy,” she said. “We want to target uses that you would see in a vibrant lifestyle center — shopping, restaurants, family-friendly places, things that would appeal to both day and nighttime populations, as well as visitors.”
CBRE Project Management is handling the development and has bids out now for a general contractor. Jones said renovations will happen in phases, the first of which is slated to kick off before the end of the year. All work should be completed by fall of 2023. CBRE declined to disclose the project cost.
Plans include repairs to the courtyard, parking garage and roof, demolishing the escalators, renovating the staircase, and installing new signage, digital media displays, benches, lighting and landscaping. Jones said because CBRE is aware of the ongoing safety concerns at and around the property, an extensive security camera system is already installed, as well as a 24/7 on-site security team.
“We knew that security was always going to be top-of-mind. Our (security) team has the authority to detain, arrest and process … It’s well beyond the scope of drive-by patrols you might see in a shopping center or office park,” she said. “We’ve worked closely with CMPD and Center City Partners to increase communication on how we can improve safety. It was really clear when we took over that it was not just a Queen City Quarter problem, but an uptown Charlotte macro issue that needs to be addressed.”
The development was well-known previously as an uptown nightlife hub, home to a variety of bars, restaurants and retail establishments, including Blackfinn AmeriPub, Rooftop 210, Suite, Howl at the Moon, Whiskey River and Studio Movie Grill. The majority closed or were evicted during the height of the pandemic.
Jones said the rebrand is another important step in de-stigmatizing the property.
“With the security and former stigma of the nightclub rowdiness, we wanted to get away from that, so taking EpiCentre out completely and rebranding it was important to us,” she said. “Queen City Quarter honors the city of Charlotte, and allows us to create a sense of community gathering.”
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