The EpiCentre hotel is finally ready to rise

The EpiCentre hotel is finally ready to rise
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The ugly exposed concrete above the EpiCentre is finally going away. What it will become is a 22-story, 300-room hotel complete with ground level retail and a rooftop space which will surely become the city’s next hottest bar.

Overall, I am incredibly impressed with this project. I love the architectural elements, I love that it is adding more retail to the EpiCentre, I love that it is getting rid of the exposed concrete and I love that it is adding more hotel rooms.

epicentre-hotel-map

For all that I love, I do have a few gripes that fail to be addressed in the rendering and press release.

First and foremost, the inclusion of the Residence Inn. We already have one. I have been very vocal about the fact that it makes no sense to me to have two of the same brands less than a mile from each other, in the same downtown area….in any city, let alone Charlotte.

To bring the new hotel to the EpiCentre, Marriott (owner of the Residence Inn brand) is having to pay the owner of the existing Residence Inn in Third Ward a $750,000 fee due to the introduction of a direct competitor in such close proximity. To me, this is a fee that makes no sense to pay and can easily be avoided.

In the press release, they state that the dual-branded nature of the hotel fills two needs: the high-end market and the extended stay market (generally folks who plan to be in town for months and don’t want to pay $400 a night at the Ritz).

If I was a potential customer looking for an extended stay hotel, and I see two Residence Inns within a mile of each other, I will choose the cheaper option. My guess is that the existing one will be cheaper just due to the costs of building this new hotel. And not to knock the Residence Inn brand, but it just doesn’t seem to fit in with the neighbors: Ritz (highest of high end), Aloft (modern-chic boutique), AC Hotel (boutique).

I would prefer it just all be an AC Hotel and be done with it. I am assuming it is way too far along in the development process to change anything, so it is what it is. Just a thought for the future perhaps.

I want to be very clear: I really do think overall this is a great project and I commend the McKibbon Hotel Group for getting this off the ground (no pun intended). This will certainly help our hotel count and continue to draw major events to Charlotte.

I can’t wait to see what goes on the rooftop and the ground floor retail space. The city needs more hotel rooms, needs something to finish that exposed concrete, needs more rooftop bars and this project accomplishes all of that.

There was a lawsuit between the two real estate firms involved with the EpiCentre that caused a delay in the project. I won’t go into the mumbo jumbo on the lawsuit, but the bottom line is that it is settled and the project is ready to go.

Cleveland Construction (cheers to Cleveland, my hometown) was chosen as the construction manager and the project is expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2017. Site prep will begin in a few weeks and construction will begin by the end of the year.

Bring on another rooftop bar, a new tower and more hotel rooms.

(Photo credit: McKibbon Hotel Group)

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