Rooftop bars aren't just for uptown anymore

Plus: Tepper is outsmarting us all again; Truist CEO hedges between Charlotte and Atlanta; Which Charlotte convenience stores admitted selling alcohol to minors?

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Rooftop bar craze spreading to Charlotte suburbs; SouthPark, Ballantyne becoming more hip?

So who’s ready to party at a SouthPark hotel bar?

The AC Hotel by Marriott under construction next to Specialty Shops on Roxborough Road released a few details this week about its new eighth-story rooftop bar, which is expected to open in early 2020.

It will be the first rooftop bar in the SouthPark area — a category totally dominated by uptown and surrounding neighborhoods. Meanwhile, two newly announced towers in Ballantyne and a second hotel under construction in SouthPark have said they, too, plan on opening rooftop spots for patrons to eat and drink and soak in the high-up suburban views.

Behold this new rendering of the SouthPark rooftop bar:

Rooftop bars: They’re not just for uptown anymore. The AC Hotel by Marriott in SouthPark will include a rooftop bar that’s open to the public on its eighth floor. Mark your calendar for an early 2020 opening.

Gin-and-tonics, tapas: There’s also a 3,000-s.f. outdoor portion (not pictured) that affords “skyline views” … perhaps of SouthPark mall and the newly renovated First Citizens Bank across the street? It will also offer guests a “menu of craft beverages including the brand’s signature selection of locally inspired gin tonic cocktails and tapas-style small bites.”

But there’s also emerging competition:

What gives with all these suburban rooftop watering holes?

Real estate costs and urbanization: Doug Miller, who teaches classes on restaurant management and beer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, says the rising cost of real estate is forcing property owners to find new ways to make money from their buildings. In addition, he says, high-density urban lifestyles are making rooftop bars and restaurants more viable. There are building booms in both SouthPark and Ballantyne. In SouthPark, the huge Colony redevelopment is expected to start by the end of the year and have up to 990 multi-family units. In Ballantyne, developers have announced plans for nearly 2,500 apartments in the area’s center.

And, Miller says, rooftop bars just make sense: “In Charlotte, you have some great weather. Who wouldn’t want to sit outside and have a beverage?”


Pro soccer subsidies: It’s economic revitalization, not corporate welfare

You have to hand it to David Tepper. There’s fresh evidence this week that the Panthers owner knows exactly what he’s doing. You don’t become a multibillionaire without some smarts.

In addition to wanting taxpayers to help build the Panthers a new stadium, Tepper has recently been making the case to bring a Major League Soccer team to Charlotte — also partially paid for by taxpayers. Ordinarily, you might think it a hard sell to persuade cash-strapped governments to fork over money for the benefit of pro sports teams owned by somebody worth $12B.

But not for somebody like Tepper. First, he shook loose $120M in incentives from South Carolina by playing on their vanity, allowing them to claim on future highway signs (however laughably) that they’re the true “home of the Carolina Panthers.”

His latest genius move? Telling the city he’d like the HQ for the MLS team to be at the city-owned old Eastland Mall site in east Charlotte. Citing an unnamed source, Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal reported on Wednesday:

The potential deal would involve $100 million of taxpayer money to help pay for the team headquarters at Eastland and additional improvements at the Panthers’ privately owned NFL stadium uptown. Panthers owner David Tepper is campaigning to bring an MLS team to town — an effort expected to prod MLS owners to make a decision by the end of this year on whether to put a team here.

The soccer headquarters and training center would occupy about 20 acres of the city-owned 69-acre Eastland property, according to the source.

Since the city bought Eastland in 2010, it has been looking for ways to pump some life back into the site as part of a hoped-for revitalization of the eastside.

If true, this will prove to be irresistible to city leaders, who can cast the use of tax money as a sorely needed investment in revitalization. Maybe Tepper can even sweeten the deal with some community soccer fields, walkable trails and LEED-certified buildings?

Bonus observation: If the old Eastland site is home to an MLS team, will that mean the city will have to hasten extending the streetcar line out there?


Truist CEO has soft spot for Charlotte … but also for Atlanta

On BB&T’s 3Q earnings call on Thursday, CEO Kelly King was asked a tricky question: Will moving the combined HQ of Winston-Salem-based BB&T and Atlanta-based SunTrust to Charlotte lead to the loss of business in Atlanta? (The bank, to be called Truist, is expected to employ about 2,000 workers in the Hearst Tower uptown.)

So how did King answer the Charlotte vs. Atlanta question? Delicately. He let it be known that he loves Charlotte:

We are very excited about the move for all three markets: Charlotte, Atlanta and Winston-Salem. Charlotte is a super-dynamic market. I mean, it’s growing extremely fast. It’s gotten to be a real kind of a major focus for young professionals to be attracted and a lot of technology people there, a lot of technology companies there, auto companies moving their technology operations there.

When this merger is done, Charlotte will be the second-largest financial district in the country. And so, Charlotte is going to be a mega-place for us to do business.

Woo-hoo! He loves the Queen City! But unfortunately King didn’t stop there. Turns out there’s room in his heart for Atlanta, too:

Atlanta is fantastic as well. Atlanta, you could say, is clearly the dominant city in the Southeast. It’s a fantastic place. We love Atlanta, and we will continue to love Atlanta. We’re not moving out of Atlanta. …

We won’t miss a beat in Atlanta. Our commitment will be increased in terms of our community support, our commitment in terms of marketing and execution will be increased. …

Neither market loses. It’s just that we happen to be blessed by having three fantastic markets that are kind of the foundational anchor geographical locations of Truist. So don’t think about it as Truist being anchored to Charlotte. Think about Truist being anchored to the three. …

So, nobody loses, everybody wins.


In brief

  • Rare University Research office: Crescent Communities says it’s close to starting construction on a four-story office building in University Research Park. It’s “the first office building to be developed within the research park in years.” (Biz Journal)

  • Drug money: An Observer analysis of newly released healthcare data found 33 doctors in the Charlotte area received $500,000 or more from pharmaceutical and medical-device companies between 2014 and 2018. Of that group, 13 are from Atrium Health, six are from OrthoCarolina and two are from Novant. (Observer)

  • Westinghouse multifamily? Cornerstone Development is looking into building a multifamily development near Westinghouse Boulevard and I-485, city records show. LJW Land owns three vacant parcels totaling 16 acres east of 485. Cornerstone tells the Ledger it is “just evaluating possibilities at this time.”

  • Power outage: About 7,000 Duke Energy customers in South End lost power for several hours Thursday afternoon. The utility blamed it on faulty equipment. (Fox 46)

  • US Bank opening: US Bank plans to celebrate the opening of its first Charlotte branch on Tuesday, at 201 S. Tryon St. uptown.

  • Hot rezoning action: City Council members on Monday are expected to make decisions on a number of zoning cases, including on a proposal by Crescent Communities for an office/retail development at Seventh Street and Caswell Road in Elizabeth; changes to the sign and tree ordinances; and a proposed city-initiated rezoning of 1,500 parcels along the Lynx Blue Line to give flexibility to developers working near light-rail stops. Full agenda here.


Food and booze news

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

  • Grill your own meat: A Japanese BBQ restaurant called Gyu-Kaku is now open at Stonewall Street in the Savoy apartments. “Every table has its own individual grill on which diners can cook their meat, seafood or veggies at their own pace and with a selection of sauces.” (Agenda)

  • Rooftop cocktail bar: Lincoln Street Kitchen & Cocktails opens today on South Church Street in South End. It has a “28-seat rooftop patio with views of Uptown” and “a live Ligustrum tree.” (Agenda)

  • Delano Little to open uptown restaurant: The former WBTV sports director is helping open The Public House on South Brevard Street uptown this month. It’s an upscale restaurant with an entertainment area that includes “a stage for live music and room for an indoor bocce court [and] shuffleboard.” Little was previously involved in restaurant ventures that included the Gin Mill, Amos’ and the Davidson Street Public House in NoDa. (QCityMetro)

  • Feminine lounge: Lost & Found opens Saturday on West Bland Street in South End. The founder “built it around feminine design features specifically to appeal to women” including “greenery walls, flowers, pink velvet couches, a huge full-length mirror in the bathroom and even a ‘No boys allowed’ neon sign.” Cocktails include “White Claw spritzes, mules and martinis.” (Agenda)

Who sold alcohol to minors? Two 7-Elevens, Circle K, Value Mart

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

  • 7-Eleven Store, 801 N. Wendover Road, agreed to pay $2,000 on a charge of selling alcohol to a minor.

  • 7-Eleven Store, 2601 South Blvd., agreed to pay $1,500 on a charge of selling alcohol to a minor.

  • Circle K Store, 9501 University Blvd., agreed to pay $7,000 on charges of selling alcohol to a minor and failing to superintend.

  • Courtyard Hooligans, 140 Brevard Court, agreed to pay $1,500 on charges of failing to comply with private-club membership requirements and failing to recycle beverage containers.

  • Keg and Cue Bar, 2135 S. Tryon St., agreed to pay $1,000 on a charge of possessing a video gaming machine.

  • Red Fox Lounge, 1001 E. Sugar Creek Road, agreed to pay $2,500 on charges of an intoxicated ABC permit-holder and failing to superintend.

  • Sam and Son Mart, 445 Bradford Drive, agreed to pay $500 on a charge of transferring glass tubes without maintaining required records.

  • Studio Movie Grill, 210 E. Trade St., agreed to pay $1,500 on a charge of failing to deface tax stamps once the bottles were empty.

  • Value Mart, 1116 McAlway Road, agreed to pay $2,000 on a charge of selling alcohol to a minor.

  • White House, 4809 Wilkinson Blvd., agreed to pay $3,000 on charges of obstructing law enforcement, failing to superintend and an employee possessing a controlled substance (two counts).

  • World of Beer, 210 E. Trade St., agreed to pay $400 on a charge of premixing mixed beverages without prior authorization.


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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.