The once iconic EpiCentre in uptown Charlotte was put up for auction Tuesday after its sale had been postponed twice.
Channel 9 was at the Mecklenburg County courthouse, where several people and companies came to bid.
The opening bid started at $95 million in cash. There ended up not being a higher bidder, and the current lender offered a credit bid. The property will likely stay under its current lender, Deutsche Bank Trust. Now, there will be a 10-day period for an upset bid, if there is one.
The $95 million starting bid was roughly $10 million more than the loan that the EpiCentre’s owners defaulted on. It came as a shock to those interested in the site.
“Well I was a little surprised,” said Duncan Anderson, with Heritage Gridiron Association. “Now, we’re just going to wait for the 10 days. We’re going to ask to go back and negotiate at the table. I don’t know. It’s a steep price for the EpiCentre, but I’m looking for the energy in the uptown area to come back.”
Before the auction, many people had big ideas about what they want to see there, but there are still business owners in limbo, unsure what’s next for them.
One owner, who has been there for six years, worked his way into a storefront after starting with a kiosk. During that time, his store survived protests, break-ins and looting.
Now, he said he can’t afford to stay.
“We made very smart decisions, very intelligent decisions, to set up uptown, but when you have a situation like this where everybody stops coming to work, everybody stops coming to Charlotte, we’re left with nothing,” said James Mack, owner of Epic Times Jewelry.
Mack said things have taken a turn for the worse since the first COVID-19 shutdown in 2020. He said foot traffic never rebounded, and a lot of customers assumed they were already closed because of that. Mack said they now owe more than $11,000 in back rent, and in July, he made only $50 on sales.
“Part of that is the walk-through traffic, and another part of that is every time we get bad news on the EpiCentre, that pretty much sends another message to individuals and a customer base not to come down here. Because everybody I’ve spoken to believes the EpiCentre is closed,” he said.
Mack said he is calling on city and community leaders in a position to help businesses like his, especially those that are minority-owned.
“Why don’t we have more people that are really allies of the small business?” Mack said. “This is something that happened to us that was completely, 100%, out of our hands.”
Mack said he’s planning to liquidate everything in the store to try and recover some of the money he lost, but he’s still searching for a new storefront to keep his business going.
(WATCH BELOW: Auction for uptown Charlotte’s EpiCentre suddenly postponed)