Apartments fit for the cast of ‘Seinfeld’
Plus: Council races heat up amid low voter turnout; Ballantyne breaks in new amphitheater with rockin' night out; Charlotte Latin lawsuit continues; Horse rescued from Weddington pool
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A Charlotte real estate developer looks to a ’90s sitcom when picking names – not that there’s anything wrong with that
Charlotte apartment developer Gateway Communities turned to the hit 1990s TV show “Seinfeld” for inspiration in naming two apartment projects — one in NoDa and one in Ballantyne — and had fun with the street names, too.
by Cristina Bolling
If a building can be an inside joke, Doug Levin and his team at Gateway Communities NC have pretty much nailed it.
Or, you could say they’re the masters of that domain.
When it came time to name two apartment complexes in Charlotte — one in NoDa and one in Ballantyne — the real estate development company cast aside typical naming conventions and aimed for their own amusement: references to the hit ‘90s sitcom “Seinfeld.”
In NoDa, Gateway staff named a 5-story, 40-unit building “The Cosmo at NoDa,” a nod to Cosmo Kramer, one of “Seinfeld’s” lead characters, and designed the building’s sign out front to mimic the show’s logo, with the use of bright yellow and a slim serif font. (And by the way, the sign is real, and it’s spectacular.)
The name “The Cosmo” is subtle — some might think it’s short for “cosmopolitan” — but the Gateway folks leaned even further into the “Seinfeld” theme in naming the access road it sits on: Festivus Court. In one of the show’s most famous episodes, “Festivus” is a made-up holiday that involves feats of strength, an airing of grievances and a metal Festivus pole instead of a Christmas tree.
In Ballantyne, Gateway double-dipped on the “Seinfeld” theme and earlier this year debuted “The Vandy” apartments on Vandelay Court. In the show, Art Vandelay is a fictitious businessman invented by character George Costanza to extract himself from sticky situations. Vandelay — who works for the made-up company Vandelay Industries — is mentioned in multiple episodes as an architect, a latex manufacturer or an importer-exporter.
NO GRIEVANCES ON FESTIVUS COURT IN NODA … and Vandelay Court is 100% real. Both street names and the apartment buildings that sit on them are nods to “Seinfeld” references. The staff at Gateway Communities NC decided to have some subtle fun when naming the developments.
Levin said the sitcom is a favorite TV show among people in his office, and that the references were never meant to be an obvious branding device to draw attention. Instead, they are more like Easter eggs for fellow “Seinfeld” lovers.
“We used to do everything as generically as possible, Levin said, “but now we try to have as much fun as possible.”
“Even if you have a part of a name that’s similar to another name (that already exists), you can’t use it,” Levin said of city and state regulations regarding the naming of streets. “Every time we throw a name out, we are like, ‘Are they going to let us name it that?’”
Levin said “Festivus” and “Vandelay” seemed to sail right through, although he’ll never know if the city’s planning department had a chuckle when they saw those names come in.
He said he has a feeling most of the apartments’ residents, who tend to be age 30 and under, have no idea what’s behind the names of their buildings or their streets. (Apartments at The Cosmo start at $1,325 for a one-bedroom and $2,200 for a two-bedroom, while The Vandy apartments rent for $1,425 to $2,130.)
And indeed, he’s right that some residents of The Cosmo aren’t clued into the “Seinfeld” theme.
Tyshon Coleman, 26, lives on the third floor and was only 1 year old when Seinfeld went off the air in 1997. He said he’s now watching the show on Netflix, but hasn’t gotten to the episode in season 9 where the characters gather for Festivus dinner, so he had no idea of his address’ heritage.
“No way! That’s wild!” he yelled down from his balcony to a Ledger reporter who was standing below.
Coleman has lived in The Cosmo since the building opened in 2021 and said he picked it for its proximity to the light rail station, which allows him to easily get to his job as a credit rental specialist. He said he also likes having local businesses nearby, like Brooks Sandwich House, which is across the street from The Cosmo.
As for Levin, he’s just happy to be able to inject some humor into what is “such a generic business, generally speaking.”
Cristina Bolling is managing editor of The Ledger and enjoyed watching old Seinfeld clips while writing this article. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, email her with your favorite episode.
Today’s supporting sponsor is Landon A. Dunn, attorney-at-law in Matthews:
2 council races turn spicy in final days before tomorrow’s election; turnout looks low
Charlotte’s Democratic primary election is tomorrow, and the races for a couple of the seats are getting spicy — although turnout seems as though it will be close to a record low.
Because there is so little Republican opposition in November’s general election, most of the action is in the Democratic primary. Tomorrow’s primary will determine 7 of the 11 seats on the council, and another two incumbents are running unopposed. Democrats now hold a 9-2 majority.
Some of the hottest action appears to be in District 3 (Steele Creek) and District 4 (University City):
In District 3, there is no incumbent, as Victoria Watlington is running for an at-large seat. Warren Turner, a former council member who was accused of harassing female city employees during his service on the council from 2003-2011, accused opponent Tiawana Brown in an email to voters of being a “habitual felon.” Brown describes herself as a “survivor of mass incarceration” who served four years in federal prison on fraud charges. She told WSOC that she’s not a habitual felon because that’s the only time she served for a felony charge.
In District 4, incumbent Renee Johnson could be facing a tougher-than-usual re-election because Mayor Vi Lyles is campaigning for challenger Wil Russell. Lyles says the council could use Russell’s experience as a construction manager for a firm that builds affordable housing. Johnson — who has been skeptical of developers and voted against the city’s 2040 Plan that overhauled development rules — says she is an independent voice who questions city staff.
There are also races in districts containing east Charlotte and west Charlotte, a citywide at-large race and the mayor’s race.
➡️ Just a reminder: The Ledger has everything you need to make an informed choice at our Charlotte City Council Election Hub, including short candidate videos and links to media questionnaires and multiple voter guides. We won’t tell you how to vote — that’s your job — but we’ll arm you with the information you need.
Meanwhile, this year’s election is approaching record low numbers. Only about 8,500 people cast a ballot in early voting, or 1.8% of those eligible, WFAE’s Steve Harrison reported.
In 2020, a citizens advisory committee recommended a number of changes to improve elections and representation, such as lengthening terms, ending partisan elections and expanding the size of the City Council. But the only recommendation the council has pursued is higher pay for council members.
Polls are open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. —TM
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How local stocks of note fared last week (through Friday’s close), and year to date:
Ballantyne … after dark
AMPED UP: An enthusiastic crowd at Ballantyne’s new outdoor amphitheater The Amp rocked out to the Wrecks, a Los Angeles-based pop rock band, on Friday night. Fans near the stage jumped up and down and screamed lyrics while families with young kids and people preferring a laid-back vibe sat on blankets on the lawn farther from the stage. The Amp is part of Northwood Office’s Ballantyne Reimagined development and has a busy lineup of concerts and other events this fall. (Ledger photo by Cristina Bolling)
You might be interested in these Charlotte events
Events submitted by readers to The Ledger’s events board:
WEDNESDAY: The Sooner, The Better: Addressing Today’s Adolescent Mental Health Crisis, 6-7:30 p.m., Central Piedmont Community College’s Parr Center, New Theater. Join HopeWay's educational event about today’s adolescent mental health crisis. Dr. Harold Koplewicz, a leading child and adolescent psychiatrist, will address the top challenges youth are facing and ways to offer meaningful support and help build resiliency. $35.
SEPT. 28: Bundles & Bluegrass, 5:30-7:30 p.m., The Ruth by Beau Monde. Join us for Bundles & Bluegrass on September 28 at The Ruth! Open bar, hors d'oeuvres and live entertainment all provided. Proceeds benefit Baby Bundles and support our extraordinary, expectant mothers and their newborn babies living in financial need. Early bird ticket rate ends August 20!
Court declines to accelerate lawsuit against Charlotte Latin: The N.C. Supreme Court denied a request by a couple that is suing Charlotte Latin School to expedite their case, in which they say the school improperly kicked out their two children after the dad had a testy argument with the head of school. The lawsuit from Doug and Nicole Turpin said that they and other parents had objected to what they said was left-wing political activism in the classroom. Charlotte Latin said the expulsions were allowed under the Turpins’ contract with the school. The case will be heard by the N.C. Court of Appeals, after a Mecklenburg judge allowed the suit to continue last year while mostly siding with the school. The Ledger covered the case extensively last year. (N.C. Tribune)
Northlake Mall sues retailers: The operator of Northlake Mall is suing American Eagle, Chico’s, Michael Kors, Soma and White House Black Market, saying the retailers violated their lease agreements by closing their locations at the mall this year. (WSOC)
Pressure on Truist? Charlotte-based Truist Financial is facing increased scrutiny from critics, who want it to “move faster and make bigger, bolder changes to improve its stock price,” American Banker reported. Truist’s stock price is down more than 30% this year, and it has cut its revenue forecast twice in seven weeks while increasing spending projections.
New grocery store: Natural foods grocer Sprouts Farms Market plans to open its second Charlotte store, in Steele Creek, in November. (Observer)
Kroger to sell 10 Harris Teeters in D.C. area: Harris Teeter parent company Kroger said it would sell 10 Harris Teeters in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., to the parent company of Piggly Wiggly, C&S Wholesale Grocers. It’s part of an attempt to satisfy antitrust regulators over a proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons, which combined plan to shed 413 stores in 17 states. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Weddington horse rescue: At least two Union County fire departments on Sunday successfully freed a horse named Lexi who became trapped in a Weddington swimming pool. (WBTV)
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Executive editor: Tony Mecia; Managing editor: Cristina Bolling; Staff writer: Lindsey Banks; Business manager: Brie Chrisman, BC Creative