June 11, 2019
An open Forum on the Excelsior Club put more details in the public domain about efforts in the last year to find a new owner and a new use for the club. It also led Tuesday to interest in a broader group of people to quickly develop a vision for City Council and the Board of County Commissioners of a new mission for the Beatties Ford Road institution.
Jessica Davis, Community Access Coordinator for the Mecklenburg County Courts, and Charlotte City Council at-large member James Mitchell led the discussion.
Beloved by many African-Americans for whom the Excelsior was the place to be when most Charlotte entertainment venues barred them at the door, the building has been closed for several years. Previous owners could not draw the crowds necessary to pay the bills, and current owner Carla Cunningham’s current asking price is reportedly $1.5 million. Repair costs have been estimated at $400,000. Mitchell said he was angling to have the city and county work together, along with the Foundation for the Carolinas and others, to acquire the site and then honor the site’s place in Charlotte’s history.
The real estate boom under way in all close-to-town neighborhoods is a factor in the Excelsior story. Some of the discussion Tuesday was about the million-dollar-plus prices being paid for vacant home parcels in the neighborhoods adjoining Beatties Ford Road where the streetcar rails are being laid. J’Tanya Adams teased out of Mitchell the details of a similar land purchase: Initial low bids for the old A&P grocery in Beatties Ford near I-77 led to ever-higher prices, new bids and still higher prices. The Duke Endowment ended up paying a $1 million asking price, but in only a year’s time the property’s value has increased further. As Davis said at one point, the $1.5 million for the Excelsior may soon look like a bargain.
In the video below, the initial presentations by Davis and Mitchell begin at minute 7:55. The Q&A begins at minute 17:36.