The Epicentre entertainment complex in uptown Charlotte officially has a new owner, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas.
That happened because the lender’s $95 million bid was the only bid at the Aug. 9 live foreclosure auction sale. And there were no other bidders during the subsequent 10-day upset bid period that closed at 5 p.m. Friday at Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment Friday.
When Epicentre opened 14 years ago, it became the city’s most prominent entertainment destination uptown. The hot nightlife drew long lines at bars and restaurants.
Epicentre was popular for local happenings like Alive After Five Thursdays and sports parties, as well as national events like the Democratic National Convention in 2012, among other high-profile events.
Foreclosure proceedings started in March after Epicentre defaulted on its $85 million loan with lender Deutsche Bank. The sale of the 302,324-square-foot mixed-use center at 201 E. Trade St. was delayed twice, on May 12 and July 26.
Upset bids, where another party can offer a higher bid on the property after the auction ends, are received by the Special Proceedings Division of the county Clerk of Court.
Epicentre rise and fall
When the entertainment complex opened 14 years ago during the economic recession, it was trumpeted as a driver for more development uptown.
The one-block complex was popular for its nightclubs, a movie theater, bowling and restaurants. It also was the spot for CIAA parties, the NBA All-Star Game and the Democratic National Convention.
In 2014, California real estate group CIM Group bought Epicentre for $130.5 million. The center was 94% leased, with 70% of its rental revenue from 16 restaurants.
But Epicentre’s popularity dwindled in the past few years because of rising crime in the area, as nightlife and development growth shifted to South End, and the impact on businesses from COVID.
As of June 30, Epicentre was 70% vacant, according to the receiver’s report filed last month. And one more business, Epic Times jewelry store, will permanently close at the end of the month, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.
Epicentre’s director lists four restaurants and a cookie shop. Other businesses include Bowlero bowling center, CVS, a dentist’s office and Tailored Smoke cigar shop.
Sabrina Jones, will remain Epicentre’s court-appointed receiver until the receivership is formally discharged by the court, property management group CBRE said in a statement to The Charlotte Observer. As receiver, CBRE temporarily is property manager and leasing agent.
Jones, managing director of property management with CBRE, will help transition the property from receivership to the new ownership.
CBRE will continue to lease and manage the property.
“We look forward to continue working to reposition Epicentre, creating an improved amenity for uptown Charlotte and ushering in a new era for the property,” Jones said in a statement.
Business bounces back
At Mortimer’s Cafe & Pub on the ground floor of Epicentre, General Manager Samantha Francis told The Charlotte Observer Friday that business has been steadily growing every month since fall.
“We’re very event-based,” she said, “so if there are concerts or sporting events we always get a big crowd before that.”
The pub is open Wednesday through Saturday. In March, lunch hours returned Thursdays and Fridays and this month, on Wednesdays. Next month, Mortimer’s will be open on Sundays, too, for football season.
“We’re already going to see a bounce back from that,” Francis said. “We were on such a decline during COVID because we had such limited hours that expanding hours has helped.”
Filling Epicentre’s empty spaces with new tenants under new ownership will give it a much-needed facelift, Francis said.
“Because if there are only a couple of places open, it makes it less desirable to go,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting more people to come here, and I think that comes with putting new businesses in.”
Francis has worked at Mortimer’s since the pub opened at Epicentre 12 years ago. “I think it absolutely can only go up from here,” she said.
Observer reporter Gordon Rago contributed to this report.