Billy Graham found Christ at Plaza-Midwood site

Plus: Tryon Medical fights new hospital foe; Lidl to open at Carmel Commons; $25 gift card costs Olde Mecklenburg $800 in ABC settlement

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Plaza-Midwood land sale: Billy Graham connection; long leases; will public weigh in?

A few more details are coming to light on the scoop the Ledger emailed out yesterday about the 12-acre shopping center in the middle of Plaza-Midwood being up for sale. It’s big news, of course, but it could be years before anything happens to the site at Central and Pecan avenues that’s home to a CVS, Five Guys, Yoga One and other restaurants and shops.

A few new tidbits (and one old one):

Historical site

A Ledger reader points out that the shopping center’s location is the site where the Rev. Billy Graham accepted Christ as a teenager in 1934.

From a Charlotte magazine article last year about Graham’s life:

Nov. 1, 1934. About to turn 16, in a life rich in milking cows, playing baseball and reading Tarzan books, he professes his faith in Jesus at a tent revival on Pecan Avenue. He’s not sure why he answered traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham’s call to stand up and go down front for the altar call. “All I knew,” he’ll write years later in his autobiography, “is that the world looked different the next morning. … There seemed to be a song in my heart.”

Former Observer religion editor and Graham biographer Ken Garfield tells the Ledger that the precise site is believed to be what is currently the parking lot outside Bistro La Bon. It was a field at the time. There’s no historical marker at the spot.

“From everything I’ve read, it was at that corner,” Garfield says. “It’s a funny little footnote.”

Charlotte trivia: The Central Square shopping center at Central and Pecan avenues, listed for sale by Berkeley Capitol Advisors, happens to be the site where evangelist Billy Graham accepted Christ in 1934. At the time, it was a field, not the parking lot of a French bistro.

Retail leases

Before everybody gets too excited about the shopping center’s imminent demise and the rise of something new, consider that there are lots of tenants of the shopping center that have leases that last for years. That’s especially true since there are plenty of shops that have moved into the center in the last few years.

Jason Hughes, CEO of the Mecklenburg County ABC Board, tells the Ledger that the ABC store at the shopping center has a lease that runs until 2027: “We are going to be there for a while,” he said. “When we located there, we knew that’s a hot area.”

A new owner could redevelop the site sooner, but that would require renegotiating with all the tenants with unexpired leases. Other tenants told Charlotte Agenda they were unaware the site was going to be sold.

Before the first dirt is moved, somebody would have to buy the site, devise a plan with consultants, line up financing, probably rezone it and negotiate with tenants to buy out their leases (or wait for them to expire). None of that happens overnight.

Community planning

Before the land has even sold, city Planning Director Taiwo Jaiyeoba said on Twitter on Thursday that he’d like to see a “master planning effort” and ask the community: “What would you like to see happen here?”


7 doctors to join growing independent practice, but a court battle looms

Tryon Medical Partners, the independent group of doctors that split from Atrium Health last year, says it has peeled off an additional seven doctors from another major hospital system: Gaston County’s CaroMont Health.

Tryon Medical, which thinks of itself as a David battling hospital healthcare Goliaths, filed a lawsuit Thursday against CaroMont seeking a judgment that the family-practice docs are free to practice medicine in Belmont despite non-compete clauses in their contracts. In an interview with the Ledger, Tryon Medical CEO Dr. Dale Owen said CaroMont is trying to put up roadblocks to letting the doctors serve patients.

“It’s the same playbook of controlling physicians and providers to direct referrals where they make the most money, rather than what is the best thing for the patients,” Owen said.

CaroMont response: In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman said CaroMont had “presented several fair and reasonable options that would allow the physicians to join Tryon Medical Partners, continue to practice in Gaston County and fulfill their contractual obligations. Unfortunately, all attempts to negotiate have been declined.” Patients will receive more information by mail in the coming weeks, she said.

The move gives Tryon a total of 96 doctors in the Charlotte area, solidifying its status as the largest primary-care practice in the Charlotte region. The Gaston County doctors will be Tryon’s first family physicians, which treat children and adults, and it is also Tryon’s first move outside Mecklenburg County.

“It is our first outside of Mecklenburg County but not the last,” Owen said. “There will be more. Some will be very soon.”

Tryon Medical Partners-Gaston plans to open Dec. 2.

Last month, Owen spoke with the Ledger at length about the future of healthcare and why he considers “hospital-controlled healthcare” to be a “failed system.” You can read the full interview here.


Loves me some internet

Maybe you’ve seen the TV ads for Apple’s new credit card. But did you know the card, made of titanium, can be sharpened and used to chop celery?

What’s in your wallet? A shiv.

The Verge has the full story (and a 37-minute video).


Home-show vendors wish they had stayed home

Queen City Nerve has an interesting story this week about last weekend’s Charlotte Fall Home, Design & Remodeling Show at The Park & Expo Conference Center. It seems that the organizer, a company called NCI Shows out of Atlanta, charged vendors on the basis of thousands of people attending. In reality, next to nobody attended, and NCI didn’t even show up for the final day.

The magazine reports:

Queen City Nerve viewed emails from before the event in which NCI Shows told vendors to expect anywhere between 8,000 and 11,000 attendees throughout the weekend, numbers that would justify vendor fees that ranged from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Not even 100 attendees showed up, said the vendors on Sunday. …

Vendors complained that NCI had not advertised in the area prior to the event. “They told us that they had started radio and TV time 10 days out. We talked to some of the radio people and they said they were contacted on Thursday while we were here setting up,” another vendor told Queen City Nerve. “There was no advertising out, no signage.”

NCI provided a rambling statement to the magazine that answered none of its questions.


In brief

  • Grocery plans: Lidl plans to open a grocery store at Carmel Commons, near the intersection of Carmel and Pineville-Matthews roads. It’s finishing construction on its first Charlotte store, on Monroe Road near McAlpine Creek Park. (Agenda)

  • American optimism: American Airlines might be on the verge of settling a bitter labor dispute with its mechanics. The union “took an optimistic tone when it announced last week that negotiations will resume Monday.” (Forbes)

  • Economic power couple: Charlotte Center City Partners says it has hired James LaBar as director of economic development. He previously served as an economic adviser to the governor of Oregon. He is also the husband of new Charlotte Regional Business Alliance CEO Janet LaBar.


Food and booze news

A weekly wrap-up of the week’s eating and drinking developments

  • Build-your-own-mimosas: A new restaurant with craft cocktails, Link & Pin, plans to open in October in South End, on the corner of South Boulevard and New Bern Street. It will “offer ‘mimosa trays’ for weekend brunch. Champagne will be served on a tray alongside fresh juices and fruits and you can build-your-own-mimosas at your table.” (Agenda)

  • Noble chicken: “Chicken shack” Bossy Beulah’s by chef Jim Noble is expected to open by Oct. 1 beside Noble Smoke on Freedom Drive. The two restaurants “will be connected by a beer garden.” (Agenda)

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Paper Doll Lounge cited for ABC violations

The N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control commission released its disciplinary records for August this week. The Charlotte businesses on the list were:

  • Club Onyx, 5300 Old Pineville Road, agreed to pay $1,000 on the charge of failing to comply with private-club membership requirements.

  • Doghouse Bar & Grill, 7200 Albemarle Road, agreed to pay $3,000 on charges of failing to deface tax stamps on empty liquor bottles and possessing liquor bottles not bearing tax stamps.

  • Fillmore Underground, 820 Hampton St., agreed to pay $2,000 on charges of allowing controlled substance violations on the premises, failing to comply with private-club membership requirements and allowing employees to wear alcoholic beverage brand T-shirts while at work.

  • Fitzgerald’s, 201 E. 5th St., agreed to pay $3,400 on charges of an employee working after drinking alcohol, offering selective drink specials to certain customers, failing to have food available while alcohol was served and failing to keep records of liquor purchases.

  • Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, 4150 Yancey Road, agreed to pay $800 on the charge of giving an alcohol retailer a $25 Olde Mecklenburg gift card. ABC Commission records show that an OBM employee gave the gift card to On the Roxx, which sells alcohol. Rules designed to keep production and sales separate require producers not to provide anything of value to retail establishments that sell alcohol.

  • Paper Doll Lounge, 3221 Wilkinson Blvd., agreed to pay $1,000 on the charge of an employee possessing a gun where alcohol is sold and consumed.

  • Peculiar Rabbit, 1212 Pecan Ave., agreed to pay $500 on the charge of failing to file quarterly financial reports.

  • Sports One, 521 N. College St., agreed to pay $300 on the charge of failing to file reports.


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The Charlotte Ledger is published by Tony Mecia, an award-winning former Charlotte Observer business reporter and editor. He lives in Charlotte with his wife and three children.