This Could Get Ugly
(Or not. But I couldn't resist the headline.)
Alternative headline: "Uptown Now Has NIMBYs! Aww, It's All Grown Up... "
There's a brouhaha brewing (if a brouhaha can brew, that is) over the cursed corner of Fifth and Church streets in uptown. That's at the back of the Ivey's building, across from the new Avenue condo tower. Stefan Latorre, a local attorney and restaurateur, owns the ground floor of the Ivey's building (the upper floors are residential condos) and until recently operated Daddy's in that space. Now, he has signed tenant Coyote Ugly to that space. And the good folks at Friends of Fourth Ward and Charlotte Center City Partners don't like that one bit. No sir, not at all.
This is where it gets interesting, and, let's face it, a little silly.
As the letters pasted below indicate, the Fourth Ward neighborhood group and CCCP opposes the Coyote Ugly on the same grounds that neighborhood groups usually oppose nightclubs–noise and unsavory types milling about. Never mind that there is a nightclub cater-corner across the street (HOM). And Latorre's restaurant has late night-salsa dancing directly across the street. And that space has been home to a parade of nightclubs over the past ten years, none successful for more than a few months.
But the thinking here is that a brand like Coyote Ugly is bound to be more successful, and draw more loud people who will hang out on the skinny sidewalk. So apparently the neighborhood group only wants unsuccessful bars there. (Interesting side note: Latorre serves on the CCCP board.)
Couple of thoughts before we get to the letter exchange: I actually think this is a good thing. The fact that uptown has enough residents concentrated to even care about a nightclub going in means that uptown is becoming a real downtown. Also, CCCP is between a rock and a hard place on this one. It has to stand up for the residents–and I admire President Michael Smith for calling it like he sees it, even when it means opposing a board member–while it simultaneously supports more destination retail/restaurants. And Latorre is in the right, too. He's gotta be able to lease space he owns, and why is a nightclub suddenly objectionable when that's all that's been there for years?
Letter from Center City Partners (Latorre response to follow):
April 29, 2008
President-Friends of Fourth Ward
Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP) shares your deep concerns related to the opening of a Coyote Ugly bar at the base of the Ivey’s building at Church and 5th Street.
We emphatically agree that this is the wrong location for this business type. The potentially loud and boisterous interior and exterior noise generated by a bar of this type would greatly disturb residents. A preferred location for Coyote Ugly would be in the College Street entertainment district where other similar bars are situated and where residents will not be disturbed. We are particularly focused on the following integration issues:
1. This tenant will likely stimulate significant public safety and nuisance issues for Fourth Ward residents and especially Ivey’s condominium and Avenue residents.
2. Relative to public safety, the sidewalk along the 5th Street hospitality corridor is too narrow to support the queuing of bar patrons and would be very dangerous for customers and neighbors.
CCCP hopes to convene the leadership of the Fourth Ward neighborhood association and other constituents with Stefan Latorre, the owner of the first floor retail of the Ivey’s building, to create an alternative mutually agreeable strategy for the retail space in question. We have shared our vision with Mr. Latorre regarding activating the ground floor of the Ivey’s building along 5th Street with a mix of soft goods retail, restaurants and improved infrastructure. We believe this visioned tenant mix will help create a stronger, safer neighborhood.
Uptown is transforming from exclusively a central business district to a dense, high-rise urban neighborhood and a growing destination. Eventually, this convergence of uses will form a very dynamic place, but it will, at the same time, create ‘urban’ tension. CCCP is committed to help balance these often intersecting and conflicting interests. We will work with the residents and development community to strike the best balance possible as our Center City evolves.
We look forward to working with you on this and other concerns of our residents regarding the best balance for our dynamically changing Uptown.
Cc: Linda Raiford, President, – Ivey’s COA
Heather Lockhart, Assistant Association Manager – Novare Management/Avenue Condos
Mayor Pat McCrory
Charlotte City Council
Board of Directors, Charlotte Center City Partners
Stefan Latorre's response:
Our vision for the first floor of the Ivey’s has always been to create a unique dining destination. Our plan was to widen the sidewalks by removing the metered parking spaces and open the restaurants onto Fifth Street, creating a distinct row of restaurants with outdoor dining on Fifth and Tryon Streets. Unfortunately, since our purchase, we have faced numerous obstacles including the installation of the huge ATM billboard on the exterior of the building that severely impedes the marketability of the entire floor. My partners and I have spent hundreds of hours working on the many issues facing the Ivey’s Building, but we have finally realized we will not be able to develop the first floor as planned. During this time, we have incurred significant losses by not leasing our spaces to their full potential. The space on the corner of Fifth and Church Street has been especially difficult to lease. This space was used exclusively as a nightclub for years. As a result, the only interest we have ever received for this location is from other nightclub operators. For over two years we searched diligently for a tenant for this space. We even created our own concept in Daddy's, an upscale sports bar, but it was not successful. Moreover, the residents did not support this business. We have lost a considerable amount of money without a tenant, and we finally found a tenant willing to operate a restaurant and bar, not a nightclub, in this space. Coyote Ugly is a national company and will operate a restaurant and bar. They have purchased the assets of Daddy's restaurant and have signed a lease agreement, so we are legally bound to lease this space to them. Nevertheless, we believe they will be good neighbors. They have an excellent record in 15 sites throughout the country, and we expect them to abide by all our laws. We also believe it is unfair to oppose or criticize this business so harshly before they even open for business.
Ivey’s Retail Condominiums, LLC