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Mystery Investor Buys The Excelsior Club in Weekly News Roundup

The Excelsior Club when it was a hub of Charlotte’s African-American community. (Photo courtesy of Colette Forrest)

Less than a month after The Excelsior Club in west Charlotte was named one of the country’s most endangered historic sites by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a buyer has reportedly stepped forward with intentions of saving the historic African-American nightclub. 

WFAE reported on Thursday that Steve Robinson, owner of New River Brokerage — a firm that had been working with Excelsior owner N.C. Rep. Carla Cunningham to sell the property — confirmed that he was under contract with a mysterious “California investor” with intentions to preserve the building.

June 12 marked a one-year deadline, meaning that the Excelsior Club’s designation as a historic landmark could no longer save it from the wrecking ball, making this week’s news all the more timely. 

The Excelsior Club opened in 1944 and has hosted acts like James Brown and Nat King Cole over the decades. Cunningham took the building over in 2017 after foreclosing on former owner James Ferguson.

Robinson reportedly refused to confirm the amount that the building sold for. It was listed at $1.5 million in April. 

A week after SunTrust Banks and BB&T Corporation announced a new merger, forming the cringeworthy Truist company, that Godawful name is already creating problems for the new company. Winston-Salem-based Truliant Federal Credit Union filed a trademark infringement suit against Truist on Monday.

Truliant president Todd Hall stated Monday that the new name was an infringement on the Truliant name, especially from the same business region. Truist’s headquarters will be located in Hearst Tower in Uptown Charlotte. 

Truist even released a video hyping up the merger as if the city were watching the formation of a new professional sports team.

In a statement announcing the new name on June 12, SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers said the name was meant to represent the shared goals of the two merging companies. 

“Truist is a brand name representative of two mission- and purpose-driven companies coming together to serve our clients as a true financial partner,” Rogers stated. “As part of our relentless pursuit to create a better experience, we’re making a commitment to always look forward, pursue what’s next and strive to do more to further financial well-being for everyone.”

Rogers will serve as president and chief operating officer of the combined company until he succeeds Kelly S. King, BB&T chairman and CEO who will serve in that same role at the combined company until September 2021.

The merger isn’t expected to close until later this year, and BB&T shareholders still need to vote on the new name, although the early lawsuit probably isn’t a good sign moving forward. 

Following more than two-and-a-half hours of discussion — including an hour of comments from the public — on Tuesday, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners decided to do further research whether to place a proposed sales-tax hike that would fund arts and parks in the county on the ballot in November. 

The proposed quarter-cent increase in sales tax would bring in an anticipated $50 million in revenue, with about half of that going to the Arts & Science Council (ASC). The ASC recorded a $2.2 million operating deficit last year after bringing in $15.9 million in revenue. If the sales-tax hike were to pass, the county and city would forgo the combined $5 million in funding they provide for ASC. The rest of the tax revenue would go toward teacher supplements, parks and greenways. 

Many of those in attendance on Tuesday spoke in favor of placing the proposed tax increase on the ballot. Board chair George Dunlap spoke in favor of the increase, though emphasizing that the board would not be voting on the increase itself — while members like Pat Cotham, Vilma Leake and Mark Jerrell voiced their reluctance. 

The board will dig further into how the revenue would be split during a public policy workshop scheduled for July 25. Members are then expected to vote on July 2 on whether to place the tax increase on the ballot. 

P.J. Washington (Photo by Tony the Tiger/Creative Commons)

The Charlotte Hornets selected forward PJ Washington out of the University of Kentucky with the 12th pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. The decision led some to question why they didn’t choose UNC forward Nasir Little, but it’s sports after all, so speculation is half the fun. 

Washington stuck around at Kentucky for a second year, rare for many kids with NBA dreams these days, and told reporters on Thursday night that he believes that gave him time to form a smoother shooting form. 

In the second round, the Hornets drafted Nevada University forward Cody Martin with the 36th pick and San Diego State University forward Jalen McDaniels at 52. The McDaniels pick raised eyebrows, to say the least, due to the fact that he’s still dealing with pending lawsuits related to allegations that, while in high school, he filmed sex acts with two separate girls without their permission and then shared them with his friends. 

McDaniels has reportedly admitted to what he’s been accused of in court documents, and stated that he has apologized to both women, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. And yet, the pending litigation continues.  

Two homicides occurred in Charlotte this week, putting the total for 2019 at 57, matching the total for the entire year of 2018. On Monday, police responded to a shooting call near the intersection of Beatties Ford Road and LaSalle Street in west Charlotte at around 3 p.m. and found 17-year-old Alysha Johnson dead of a gunshot wound. Police believe the shooting was a result of an attempted robbery. They later arrested Juan Zamora, 17; Andy Garcia, 16; and a 15-year-old female, charging all three with first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery. 

On Wednesday, just before 7:30 p.m., police responded to a shooting call at a neighborhood pool at the intersection of Clifton Meadow Drive and Twin Falls Lane in southeast Charlotte. Responding officers were told that the victim had already left the scene. Shortly thereafter, staff at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center reported that they were treating 22-year-old Kenneth Armstrong, believed to be the victim from the pool. Armstrong was pronounced dead a short time after. Detectives have arrested and charged 21-year-old Tadaran McDonald with Armstrong’s murder. 

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