Can Charlotte spare millions for Tepper's soccer dream?

Plus: Scammers target payment apps; Pulte seeks approval for 800 homes in Steele Creek; Cam scooter video draws outrage

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Multi-billionaire Panthers owner wants $200M from city for pro soccer, reports say. Where will the money come from?

Panthers owner David Tepper has approached the city for taxpayer money — and it’s not for football. In closed session, the Charlotte City Council on Monday night heard from Tepper’s representatives, who said he’d like up to $200M in taxpayer funding to help land a new pro soccer team, according to media reports. From WBTV, which broke the story Tuesday:

The two sources briefed on the request told WBTV the closed session was for council members to receive an initial pitch to build an MLS facility in Charlotte. …

While council members did not take a formal vote at the conclusion of the presentation, they did give approval for city staff to continue exploring options to fund the project.

The Biz Journal’s Erik Spanberg later filled in some of the details — including that the city cash would go for stadium upgrades, a team HQ and a training center:

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper wants $110 million to $212 million for upgrades at Bank of America Stadium and a companion Major League Soccer team headquarters and practice facility in Charlotte, a city government source told CBJ on Tuesday afternoon. …

Changes to BofA Stadium would make the venue more soccer-friendly. The city government source who spoke to CBJ said the stadium upgrades and an MLS team headquarters and training center would represent the sum of the city’s investment unless and until Tepper begins discussions on a retractable-roof domed stadium. The Panthers owner has said he hopes to build a new multipurpose stadium within a decade.

Until now, most of the attention to Tepper’s need for taxpayer money centered on the Panthers. Tepper said over the summer he’d like taxpayers to help pay for a new domed football stadium. Those tend to cost in the neighborhood of $2B, and taxpayers might be on the hook for about half.

This is a separate request for soccer. (Multi-billionaires are needy people.)

Even laying aside the usual concerns about subsidizing sports teams owned by billionaires, the case for the city paying money for soccer seems even weaker than paying for football — especially since Tepper is already building practice facilities and HQ buildings in Rock Hill (with $120M in South Carolina tax money). Charlotte’s contribution sounds as though it would go toward separate soccer practice facilities and a headquarters in Charlotte. Businesses often like to talk about “synergies,” but where are they here? How about some “adaptive re-use” of Panthers facilities for soccer?

Money crunch: Because we’re learning this from media leaks, we don’t know for sure what the plan is. The initial reports from WBTV and the Biz Journal contradict each other. The numbers in them might be a little high. As far as where the city might unearth millions of dollars in the next few months, the most obvious source is from hospitality taxes, such as occupancy and prepared-food taxes. The city has been saving some of those for stadium renovations and other tourism-related projects.

The real problem, though, is that even though hospitality tax revenue is rising — hotel and food taxes brought in $100M last year, triple the level from 15 years ago — the demand for it is rising even faster. There’s the issue of the football stadium. Upkeep on the basketball arena. NASCAR Hall of Fame. Possible upcoming renovations to Discovery Place. Convention Center. And now soccer is added to the list?

The City Council will probably go ahead and green-light spending for soccer. Eventually, though, something will have to give. Will it be taxpayers doing the giving?

Bonus observation: Does it make sense to spend millions to improve Bank of America Stadium for soccer if we’re going to knock it down and build a new domed football stadium in 10 years?

Bonus bonus observation: At least the city won’t have to spend millions to reconfigure Bank of America Stadium for Billy Joel. (Right?)

Piano Man: Billy Joel announced Tuesday that he’ll perform at Bank of America Stadium in April 2020, but is it David Tepper who is playing the city? (Photo from Creative Commons)

CMPD: Scammers are using your phone’s payment apps

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they’ve seen a spike in the last six months in a new type of financial crime: borrowing cell phones and stealing money with apps.

Sgt. Seth Greene of CMPD’s financial crimes unit tells the Ledger that the scam works something like this: You’re at a gas station and “somebody walks up to you and says, ‘Hey, man, my car broke down, can I borrow your phone and make a phone call?’” People want to be helpful, so they hand over their phones.

But when they do, Greene says, the crooks get onto payment apps such as Venmo or Zelle and transfer themselves money from the victims’ accounts. In the mobile-phone age, it shows how criminals evolve with technology. The good news is they probably are forging fewer checks.

The numbers aren’t huge, but police say they’re seeing enough of an increase to urge people to safeguard their phones.

“A lot of what we do in financial crimes is trying to get people to be smarter with their phones and with their computers,” he says. “If people would begin to treat their cell phones like they treat their houses — lock the door, don’t let people in — then we would be better off.”

Loves me some internet

A WCCB reporter tweets a video of Cam Newton riding a moped uptown with a foot injury, and social media erupts:

Comments include:

  • “Really Cam i seen where your head is at and it sure ain’t with Our Team!!!”

  • “Geez Bunch of Snitches man”

  • “He got a purse smh”

  • “this just in, cam is not allowed to be a human while hurt. catch the whole story on quit your job o’clock”

Pulte goes for 800+ homes in Steele Creek

Pulte Homes has submitted a rezoning petition near Steele Creek for a development that could include nearly 700 single-family homes plus up to 120 units of senior housing.

The rezoning covers nearly 272 acres at Steele Creek Road at Sledge Road, just north of Southwest Middle School. The development could also include up to 15,000 s.f. of indoor recreation space.

For the full list of the most recent rezoning applications, scroll down to the bottom of this newsletter.

In brief

  • 1,000 call-center jobs: Atlanta-based customer-service company Chime Solutions plans to hire 400 workers in the next month and a total of 1,000 by the end of 2020. Entry-level wages are $14 an hour. The Biz Journal says Chime is leasing land in University City, though Mayor Vi Lyles tells QCityMetro that the city is looking to “find a location in west Charlotte — either along the Freedom Drive corridor or the Beatties Ford Road corridor.” (Observer/Biz Journal/QCityMetro)

  • Pedestrian-only streets in Charlotte? City leaders this week discussed whether it’s a good idea to close a portion of uptown or South End to cars in order to create a pedestrian mall like those in Manhattan or Madrid. Nothing looks imminent — just a discussion. (UNC Charlotte Urban Institute)

  • Tryon Medical adds three more: Tryon Medical Partners, the Charlotte region’s largest internist-based medical practice, announced it is adding three rheumatologists from Charlotte-based Arthritis & Osteoporosis Consultants of the Carolinas.  

  • Urgent care at Rea Farms: Atrium Health plans to open a new urgent care facility on Oct. 1 at Rea Farms. It’s also adding a location in University City on Oct. 8. Those will bring the total number of Atrium urgent care centers to 33, including 10 that have opened in the last five years. (Biz Journal/paywall)

Cheap getaways from CLT

  • Disney next week? Charlotte to Orlando, $64 round-trip on Spirit (nonstop), Oct. 5-8.

  • Charlotte to Newark, $70 round-trip on Spirit (nonstop), various dates October-December.

  • Charlotte to Miami, $82 round-trip on American (nonstop), various dates October-December.

  • Charlotte to Baltimore, $70 round-trip on Spirit (nonstop), various dates October-December.

  • Charlotte to San Jose, Costa Rica, $219 round-trip on Spirit (one-stop), various dates in October-November.

  • Charlotte to Las Vegas, $183 round-trip on Spirit (one-stop), Nov. 16-18.

Source: Google Flights. Fares retrieved Wednesday morning. They might have changed by the time you read this.

Latest Charlotte-Mecklenburg rezoning applications

OK, so these won’t interest everybody. But if you love geeking out to local real estate development, here’s your fix:

2019-122. Beacon Partners, 39.7 acres at 4916 Airway Ave. from I-1 (CD) to I-1. Rezoning agent: K&L Gates.

2019-123. Magnus Capital Partners, 1.99 acres at 935 Summit Ave. from I-1 to I-1 PED-O. “To allow development of the parcel with an office building that exceeds the permitted height and supports the proposed Silver Line.” Rezoning agent: Moore & Van Allen.

2019-124. Gvest Capital LLC, 5.86 acres on 4 parcels at 5007 Monroe Road (1,2,3,4) from O-6(CD) and R-17MF to UR-2(CD). Up to 75 residential dwelling units. Rezoning agent: Moore & Van Allen.

2019-125. SCOC-Mallard Crossing LLC, 8.43 acres at 3020 Prosperity Church Road from B-1(CD) to B-1(CD)SPA. “To allow a minor expansion to the existing shopping center.” Rezoning agent: Moore & Van Allen.

2019-126. Harrison Tucker, 0.45 acres on 3 parcels at 517 E. 17th St. (1,2,3) from R-8 to UR-2(CD). “Up to 16 residential dwelling units.” Rezoning agent: Russell Fergusson.

2019-127. Regal Estates LLC, 0.85 acres at 5015 Morris Field Drive from R-4 to R-8MF. Rezoning agent: Tiffany Cherry.

2019-128. Pulte Group, 271.6 acres on 6 parcels at 13320 Steele Creek Road/13909 Sledge Road (1,2,3,4,5,6) from R-3 to MX-3 and UR-2(CD). “Up to 697 single-family residential dwelling units” plus “up to 120 continuing care/retirement community age restricted residential dwelling units” plus “up to 15,000 square feet of gross floor area of indoor recreation uses” and outdoor recreation. Rezoning agent: Moore & Van Allen.

2019-129. Mynhardt Investments, 0.34 acres at 821 E. 35th St. from R-5 to R-6. Rezoning agent: Matthew Villmer.

2019-130. Greenway Holdings, 0.43 acres at 4304 Park Road from MUDD-CD to MUDD-CD SPA. 3,500 s.f. office building. Rezoning agent: Walter Fields.

2019-131. Red Cedar Capital Partners, 8.57 acres on 2 parcels at 151 Baucom St. (1,2) from R-3 to R-4.

2019-132. Lennar Multifamily Communities, 5.9 acres on 3 parcels at 213 Verbana St./4607 Gilead St. (1,2,3) from I-2 to TOD-TR. Rezoning agent: K&L Gates.

2019-133. TBGC LLC, 0.2 acres on 2 parcels at 1201 Kennon St. (1,2) from R-5 to MUDD-O. “The Site may be developed with up to 3,400 … square feet of gross floor area for EDDE Type I and II, retail, office, and personal service uses.”  Rezoning agent: Moore & Van Allen.

2019-134. DJ Family Farms, 1.27 acres at 2159 Sam Wilson Road from R-3 to I-1. Rezoning agent: Moore & Van Allen.

2019-135. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, 8.4 acres on 4 parcels at 9700 Mintworth Ave. (1,2,3,4) from NS and R-17MF to NS and NS SPA. “To accommodate an affordable residential housing development.” Rezoning agent: K&L Gates.

2019-136. AmmiReddy LLC, 1.90 acres at Sloan Drive from O-1 (CD) to O-1 (CD) SPA. “Development of a hotel” with 72 rooms. Rezoning agent: Brian Crutchfield.

2019-137. AMKO Holdings, 9.62 acres at 7001 W. Sugar Creek Road from R-3 to R-6 (CD). Up to 37 single-family detached units. Rezoning agent: Urban Design Partners.

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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

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.