City, county hope to use tax dollars for Excelsior Club purchase

Night life could return to The Excelsior Club in historic West End Charlotte. Charlotte City Council and county commissioners plan to use tax dollars to help bring the club back to life.

Charlotte City Council is set to vote Monday night on using $50,000 to help a California investor purchase the property. County commissioners will also vote on using another $50,000 at their meeting Tuesday night.  Two private groups are also putting $150,000 towards the property.

A total of $250,000 is being offered through the public-private partnership, but there are stipulations.

You could say The Excelsior Club on Beatties Ford Road in Washington Heights has had a dark cloud over it for some time. The club closed in 2016, fell into disrepair and now needs at least $400,000 in repairs. In September, a potential buyer backed out.

With another California developer looking to purchase the property, the City of Charlotte is willing to fork over $50,000 to help.

“I think this is the right path to go. I think the citizens are very comfortable now that the city, county and the private sectors have all stepped up,” said councilmember James Mitchell.

Between the city, county and 2 private groups, $250,000 will go towards the property. Under the agreement the developer will have to finish by 2024. They can’t tear down the club as parts are required to be preserved.

City leaders say the $50,000 is considered a loan.

“We are still trying to make sure that we don’t become a hindrance to the project so we are very flexible on the $50,000 loan,” said councilmember Mitchell.

In its prime The Excelsior Club was the life of Washington Heights, hosting the likes of James Brown and Barack Obama.

That history is why the Knight Foundation is one of the private groups donating money towards the project;. They hope a face lift at the excelsior will spread throughout Charlotte’s West End.

“I have heard about so many great things happening there that I am looking forward to continuing that legacy with the new excelsior,” said Charles Thomas, Director of The Knight Foundation Charlotte.

If everything is approved this week, closing on the property could happen by the end of this month with development starting as soon as April of next year.