Former uptown hot spot Epicentre in receiver’s hands after $85 million loan default

The former hot spot for nightlife in uptown Charlotte, Epicentre, has gone into receivership after defaulting on its $85 million loan. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Sabrina Jones, managing director of CBRE Inc., was named receiver of Epicentre at 210 E. Trade St., according to a July report filed with the N.C. Business Court.

CBRE, now the site’s property manager and leasing agent, is discussing “revisioning” of Epicentre, according to the receiver’s report filed Friday. CBRE is an international commercial real estate services and investment firm based in Texas with several offices in the Charlotte region.

The once-popular uptown shopping and entertainment center is facing potential foreclosure after defaulting on its $85 million loan as of June 6, the Observer previously reported.

Chief Business Court Judge Louis Bledsoe scheduled a video conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to an order signed last week. All case proceedings were assigned to Bledsoe on July 29.

Los Angeles-based investment firm CIM Group bought Epicentre in 2014 for $130.5 million. The lawsuit filed in June by lender Deutsche Bank Trust Co. names Epicentre SPE, not CIM Group, as delinquent on its loan payments, the Observer previously reported.

As a public gathering place focused on dining and entertainment, the pandemic had “outsized” economic impact on EpiCentre, CIM Group said in a statement to the Observer on Monday.

“Despite our best efforts, CIM Group was unable to negotiate an agreement with the special servicer,” the company said.

Moore & Van Allen is the receiver’s legal counsel, according to recent court filings in the case. Epicentre is represented by Felton Parrish of Alexander Ricks. Deutsche Bank Trust Co. is represented by James Pulliam of Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton.

Epicentre occupancy

The 302,324-square-foot, multi-level mixed-use retail and office center has space for about 50 tenants, according to the receiver’s report.

But “the property is 31.11% occupied” and “63.25% vacant” through the end of July, the report said.

After North Carolina restaurants and entertainment venues were ordered closed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the majority of Epicentre businesses did not reopen. That includes: Howl at the Moon, Whisky River, Tin Roof, Blackfinn, Firehouse Subs, Grabbagreen Food + Juice, Jason’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Papa Rossi’s New York Style Pizza, Rootop 210, Smoothie King, Suite, Urban Brick’s Pizza, Vault, Vida Cantina and Wild Wing Cafe.

Unrelated to the pandemic, Studio Movie Grill closed its second-level Epicentre location March 2 after seven years.

On Epicentre’s online five-floor map, about 20 businesses are shown to be open including Insomnia Cookie, Epic Times jewelry store, Fuji Hibachi and Teriyaki Grill, Flemings Steakhouse, Mortimer’s Cafe, Red Eye Diner, Bowlero, Tailored Smoke, Rocket Fizz and World of Beer.

Service businesses such as CVS, Novant Health and State Farm, Skyview Dentistry, Seaport Global financial office and State Farm remain open, too.

“We’re open and like other small local businesses looking to survive,” Redeye Diner manager Keith Mathis told the Observer on Monday.

Uptown businesses have struggled during the pandemic shutdowns with corporate employees working from home and few sports and entertainment events. But Mathis said the restaurant, with about 50 employees serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, has seen business increase this summer. He hopes to soon return to the diner’s 24-hour service.

“We’re gearing up for the return to uptown,” he said of companies’ return to office plans for banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Truist.

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