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AmericanUrbanDesigner

Belk Uptown?

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In the "old days" department stores were one reflection of the prominence of a city.

Today, Belk is one of only a very few independently-owned department stores left in the US; it's currently the largest privately-owned department store in the country...

In the spirit of Charlotte's emergence as a major city...should Belk reestablish a central, signature, flagship, store Uptown? What do you think?

1. Yes, Belk's flagship store and showcase should be downtown, or,

2. No, civic pride, as reflected in a department store, is no longer relevant in contemporary America.

If "yes", what do you think it should look like? Where should it be located?

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It should be small, cater to women's clothing and accessories, be located in the foodcourt of BofA Plaza, and be called Belk Express.....it looks like they have already responded to my desires......

I'm not sure that there needs to be a large "flagship" store downtown. I don't see that it would be supported, at least not in the near future. Downtown is just now beginning to lose it's isolated standing among many suburban residents. The new arena, as well as other existing and planned venues are helping to attract people.....it will take some time for people to accept that downtown is once again safe, and full of people before people would begin to consider it a competitive shopping area to SP, or even Pineville.......so in time it may happen, but not before the population is well over 25k (maybe 2015?)

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I go with #2. The days you speak of are long gone and Belk doesn't offer anything distinctive in its stores anymore. I am waiting for them to be taken over by some national retailer.

It would be nice however to have a downtown store a la Harrolds in London or Sogo in Yokohama, but I dont think it is possible here anymore.

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Gentlemen,

I have to disagree wholeheartedly (I know you will respect this...). ATLRVR..."unsafe" is relative...for the majority of Charlotte's new residents Uptown is a cakewalk as far as "safety" is concerned (relative to where they're coming from...)

monsoon, faith...have faith...and just imagine.... :thumbsup:

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as i mentioned in the other thread, i'm in between the two. I think that when/if they close up at eastland, they might hedge by putting a smaller (non-flagship) store intown. It MUST for a biz purpose, rather than civic pride or vanity (unless, of course, that civic pride or vanity is...um... profitable). I think Charlotte is doing a lot right to build the demographics for downtown shopping. Elizabeth Ave seems the best bet for street retail, but (correct if wrong atlrvr) i think grubb only masterplanned a single spot for deparment store.

I think once critical mass of population and wealth intown are met, downtown/intown will be seen as a separate retail market than southpark, and the others. I'm very hopeful that those days will return, but i think we may have to double the downtown population before we will see it, as the already announced/anticipated retailers will likely satisfy the population for the next few years.

PS> I still wish bofa had saved the facade of their original store.

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True... and was a big part in restarting downtown living.

Do you still have one of those older pics of that, monsoon?

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There originally was no department store included in the intial concept that I worked on......of course it has been morphing over time, and I haven't been directly involved in about 2 years. I went to the Grubb website and looked at the site plan and it looks like there could be on at the corner of Elizabeth and Torrence....I wish I could read what it said on the site plan, it is quite different than I remember, though it does still include the B&N/Borders at Eliz. and Hawthorne......the apartment building renderings were great....about 11 stories, mostly brick, but very modern (with spires of course).

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I go with #2.  The days you speak of are long gone and Belk doesn't offer anything distinctive in its stores anymore.    I am waiting for them to be taken over by some national retailer. 

It would be nice however to have a downtown store a la Harrolds in London or Sogo in Yokohama, but I dont think it is possible here anymore.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

If Belk could bring some of the distinctiveness they have at SouthPark back uptown, it could work. They have the resources and the local support to do it, and plus it would be an ideal replacement for the Eastland store they're bent on closing :)

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This actually one subject where I can offer a relatively informed opinion. My wife works in the tax department at Belk, on the family side.

As of right now, no plans are in the works to add a store to downtown, although they have been approached about a location. It could happen, but as of right now, it's not in the works. If it does happen, it will be a smaller botique store focusing on higher end clients (sort of a smaller version of the South Park store).

As for Belk being taken over by a national chain, they are the country's largest family-owned department store, which should be a source of pride amongst us Charlotte folks. They are extremely well run, and in a better financial postion than most larger retail chains. Until John Belk dies, I don't think there is any danger in them selling out to a larger chain. Since the family owns an overwhelming share of the company's stock, it would be impossible for them to be bought out without the family's consent.

On a personal note, having seen what the Belk foundations and charities do for this area, I can say that it's pretty impressive.

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Don't you love the fact that I-277 is named for John Belk, yet he and his family's company packed up and left uptown years ago?

As a friend of mine who works at Belk Stores Services once said of the Belks, "Dynasty in Dogpatch". Talk about a dysfunctional family!

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True... and was a big part in restarting downtown living.

Do you still have one of those older pics of that, monsoon?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Most likely I do in a box somewhere. LOL

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Don't you love the fact that I-277 is named for John Belk, yet he and his family's company packed up and left uptown years ago?

As a friend of mine who works at Belk Stores Services once said of the Belks, "Dynasty in Dogpatch".  Talk about a dysfunctional family!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Just a reminder they named the road after him for being Mayor of CLT, and not because of the stores. During the period he was in office, he was a supporter of the loop highway, I-277, that now separates DT from the rest of CLT. He also was responsible for much of the urban renewal that eventually push retailers and people out of the city. Probably his biggest day was when they opened the brand new flagship Belk store in Eastland Mall in 1975. It caused East Charlotte to be created.

I guess it could be worse, they could have named it the Ronald Reagan Freeway.

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I guess it could be worse, they could have named it the Ronald Reagan Freeway.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

LOL. I lived in Los Angeles when the Simi Valley Frwy was renamed "Ronald Reagan". Never drove it again!

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LOL.  I lived in Los Angeles when the Simi Valley Frwy was renamed "Ronald Reagan".  Never drove it again!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Less traffic for Republicans....

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Just a reminder they named the road after him for being Mayor of CLT, and not because of the stores.  During the period he was in office, he was a supporter of the loop highway, I-277,  that now separates DT from the rest of CLT.  He also was responsible for much of the urban renewal that eventually  push retailers and people out of the city.  Probably his biggest day was when they opened the brand new flagship Belk store in Eastland Mall in 1975.  It caused East Charlotte to be created.   

I guess it could be worse, they could have named it the Ronald Reagan Freeway.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I didn't know that Belk at Eastland was ever considered the "flagship" store. The Southpark store has always been larger. Originally, the top floors of both Belk and Ivey's (now Dillard's) at Southpark were not used. I remember in the mid '80s when both stores were extensively remodelled and the upper floors opened. Interestingly, the Belk store at Carolina Place mall has a third floor that is not yet being used (you can see the entry spaces covered in opaque glass when you are on the escalators).

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Interestingly, the Belk store at Carolina Place mall has a third floor that is not yet being used (you can see the entry spaces covered in opaque glass when you are on the escalators).

You've got me wanting to go to Carolina Place now to check that out, LOL!

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You've got me wanting to go to Carolina Place now to check that out, LOL!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

lol. me, too, but my car grinds to a halt and starts making a sobbing noise when we enter Pineville town limits.

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I didn't know that Belk at Eastland was ever considered the "flagship" store.  The Southpark store has always been larger.  Originally, the top floors of both Belk and Ivey's (now Dillard's) at Southpark were not used.  I remember in the mid '80s when both stores were extensively remodelled and the upper floors opened.  Interestingly, the Belk store at Carolina Place mall has a third floor that is not yet being used (you can see the entry spaces covered in opaque glass when you are on the escalators).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Belk Eastland was never a 'flagship.' It was a signifigant store because it essentially replaced the downtown location, but SouthPark was considered the flagship suburban store and always has been, especially since the downtown store closed in 1988.

Both Belk SouthPark and Carolina Place were built with extra spce for expansion. Belk did that in several markets over the years, and strangely enough, those are the stores that ended up being most successful.

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I didn't know that Belk at Eastland was ever considered the "flagship" store.  The Southpark store has always been larger.  Originally, the top floors of both Belk and Ivey's (now Dillard's) at Southpark were not used.  I remember in the mid '80s when both stores were extensively remodelled and the upper floors opened.  Interestingly, the Belk store at Carolina Place mall has a third floor that is not yet being used (you can see the entry spaces covered in opaque glass when you are on the escalators).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

In 1975 it certainly was. Southpark was actually in decline and the vast majority of people preferred to go to the new largest mall in NC called Eastland. Eastland opened to great fanfare and people came from all over the Carolinas to see it and the Eastland Belks was a showcase for the Chain. When Eastland was expanded again in 1979 the Belks store there did a mini-rennovation to help celebrate the new opening. In comparison Southpark in the late 70s/early 80s was viewed by most as a waste of time to go to.

It wasn't until the re-modeling that you spoke of in the 1980s that Southpark's fortunes begain to rise again. That, and the changing demographics of Charlotte where the middle class shifted away from East Charlotte resulting in Belk doing several remodelings that significantly upgraded the level of customer it catered to.

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Interesting fact about the Belk at Carolina Place. The third floor is available for expansion, but right now it serves as a crisis center for Belk's Corporate HQ. In the case of an emergency (such as Hugo or snow storm, fire at existing HQ) the place is fully wired with desks, phone and data lines to serve as a temporary command post until repairs are made at the current HQ.

It has been used at least once for that very purpose.

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Interesting fact about the Belk at Carolina Place. The third floor is available for expansion, but right now it serves as a crisis center for Belk's Corporate HQ. In the case of an emergency (such as Hugo or snow storm, fire at existing HQ) the place is fully wired with desks, phone and data lines to serve as a temporary command post until repairs are made at the current HQ.

It has been used at least once for that very purpose.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Now THAT'S interesting.

Go to Belk Carolina Place and ride the escalators up, and look up at the balconies and w/ doors and you can see they have a third floor.

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