CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Just beneath ground level on South College Street, DeMichael Gholston has been cutting hair for 20 years.
“It’s so different, you know,” the barber at Relaxations Grooming Bar said.
Three years ago, it was common for 30 customers to walk through his doors daily, today – now it’s six.
“I mean, this shop used to stay full of workers and customers but now it’s just me and the owner here, and I’m usually the only one here,” Gholston said.
Gholston isn’t alone in this struggle. His neighbors, a flower shop and a convenient store have also experienced a dramatic decline in customers. They used to fill office buildings like the One Wells Fargo Center located directly across the street.
“This asset is a poster child for the issue post-pandemic of nobody wants to go to the office,” managing partner of Lincoln James Capital Sokoni Scott said.
The building, once occupied by Wachovia Bank, became Wells Fargo’s East Coast headquarters in 2010. The bank’s looming departure from the building this year is expected to leave offices more than half-empty.
According to filings on CoStar, a commercial real estate information company, the building went into receivership earlier this month after its owner, Vision Properties, missed loans payments. The filing shows the company still has $157 million left on its loan.
Wells is amid a move into on the former Duke Energy tower at 550 S. Tryon St., just a few blocks south.
Scott says the company has three options: Sell the property at a lower value, refinance or hand over the keys to the lender.
“In 2016 they purchased it at 98 percent occupancy and so they’ve owned it,” he said. “They’ve paid the mortgage, and the mortgage came due earlier this year, I believe it was May, and so now they are in a situation where it is not as valuable as it was.”
Right now, the building’s largest tent is the bank it shares its name with. Once Wells Fargo moves out, it’s first, second and fourth largest tenants have leases that expire within five years.
“I anticipate that ultimately this property will be a booming property at some point in the future, but at the meantime, the owners and the city will feel a little bit of pain,” Scott said.