Charlotte, NC

QC Roundup 12/1: Epicentre foreclosure, NC's new burn ban, Gov. Cooper advises booster shots, checking in on the Hornets

Collin Cunningham

I couldn't think of a better place in the whole world for little Dawn to spend her first real Christmas, so we packed up and headed for North Carolina.
— The Charlie Daniels Band, "A Carolina Christmas Carol"

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Welcome to the first day of December, Charlotteans! To help soothe you into the imminent holiday season, we're kicking off today's roundup with a quote from The Charlie Daniels Band's bluegrass ballad "A Carolina Christmas Carol." If you've got 16 minutes to spare, it's a fun listen as the Wilmington native recounts a holiday season in the Old North State, enthralling listeners with vignettes about celebrating Christmas "to the hilt" and "Granddaddy," who "was also a big defender of Santa Claus."

Getting into today's news, the attorney for Deutsche Bank Trust Co. announced the Epicentre mall and nightlife destination in Uptown Charlotte will shutter in early 2022 and North Carolina enacted a statewide burn ban as firefighters battle a blaze upstate. We'll let you know what that means, and which fires can still roar as the cold sets in.

With the omicron variant of COVID-19 afoot, Gov. Roy Cooper again encouraged North Carolinians to get the vaccine during a coronavirus-centric press conference on Tuesday. We'll tell you what else he and state health authorities said, and check in on the Charlotte Hornets, who have had a few wins and losses since the Roundup last covered them.

It is Wednesday, Dec. 1, and here's what every Queen City resident needs to know.

1. Bank to foreclose Epicentre in Uptown Charlotte in spring 2022

What happened: Deutsche Bank Trust Co. is preparing to foreclose on the Epicentre in Uptown Charlotte sometime during the first quarter of 2022. Per WBTV, James Pulliam, an attorney representing Deutsche Bank, updated the timeline after North Carolina Business Court Chief Judge Louis Bledsoe asked about the duration of the bank's receivership over the property during a meeting on Tuesday. The receivership started back in August, when the East Trade Street building defaulted on an $85 million loan with the trust company.

Another status update hearing is set to take place on March 30.

Why it matters: It is currently unknown what will happen to the storefronts currently housed within the mixed-use structure, which houses 19 businesses, mostly bars and restaurants, and is at 30.6% of its occupation capacity. The mall used to have fewer vacancies, but WBTV reports pandemic shutdowns caused the majority of occupants to leave.

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The Epicentre in Uptown Charlotte(Courtesy of Charlotte's Got a Lot)

Deutsche Bank isn't the only company making moves in Uptown. Multinational conglomerate Honeywell is set to hold a grand opening ceremony for its new headquarters on Mint Street today. The project has been in the works since 2018, when the multifaceted manufacturer announced it would be heading to the Queen City, according to WCNC.

2. NC burn ban: Only firepits and fireplaces allowed as Pilot Mountain fire rages

What happened: North Carolina residents are able to light fires in fire pits and fireplaces within 100 feet of occupied dwellings, but no other fires are allowed after the state instituted a sweeping burn ban that overrides previous burning permits statewide on Monday. Anyone who does light brush or leaves in an open burn may face a citation or fine.

Why it matters: The North Carolina Forest Service's mandate comes as crews north of Winston-Salem battle a fire that has claimed over 1,000 acres of Pilot Mountain State Park. While they might put a damper on your early December fires, burn bans aren't uncommon in the Old North State around this time of year, when less moisture is in the air and wildfires are more prevalent.

3. 'Don't wait to vaccinate': Gov. Cooper, health officials urge vaccination as omicron enters North America, case rates increase in NC

What happened: Gov. Roy Cooper joined NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen. While North Carolina had what Cooper called a "more normal" Thanksgiving last week compared to 2020's holiday, the Governor also told viewers who haven't been vaccinated to get the shot, and those who have gotten it to get a booster shot.

As for the omicron variant, Cohen said North Carolinians have "no reason for alarm" after Canadian health officials announced seven cases of the deadlier virus variant as of Tuesday afternoon.

Cooper also announced Cohen would be leaving the NCDHHS at the end of the year. Kody Kinsley, who currently serves as the department's deputy secretary, will fill her shoes starting Jan. 1. When he does, Cooper said Kinsley would be the first openly gay government secretary in the history of the state.

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NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen will end her five-year tenure with the department on Jan. 1.(North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services)

Why it matters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend boosters for any of the three coronavirus vaccines on the market. The agency updated its recommendations on Monday to make any adult over the age of 18 eligible for a supplemental dose six months after they got the Pfizer or Moderna shot and two months after they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

And, despite no confirmed U.S. cases of the variant out of South Africa, medical experts believe the variant may have already entered North Carolina. Dr. Christian Ohl from Atrium Health told WCNC that omicron is concerning because of how quickly it mutated: Omicron has over 30, while the delta variant developed between 10 and 12 mutations.

North Carolina's COVID-19 case rate is also increasing, with the latest two-week average reporting a positive case average of 8.3%, the highest in November, and that's without taking new cases from Thanksgiving into account.

4. Hornets win against Magic and Timberwolves, fall to Rockets and Bulls, set to play Bucks tonight

What happened: The Charlotte Hornets have a season record of 13-10. Since the last time we reported on them, the basketball team beat the Orlando Magic, 106-99, and crushed the Minnesota Timberwolves at home, 133-115. But they didn't play as well on their next two road games against the Houston Rockets, losing 146-143, and the Chicago Bulls, losing 133-119 in the Windy City.

The team will play the Atlanta Hawks in a road game on Sunday before returning home for a three-game series starting on Dec. 6, when they'll face the Philadelphia 76ers.

Why it matters: The Hornets hope to fare better tonight, when they'll square off against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are 13-8 this season. Charlotte point guard Terry Rozier shared a few ideas about how the team can improve following their loss to the Bulls, per The Charlotte Observer:

We’ve got to be more physical out there. We don’t care if we pick up more fouls. We’ve got to be that physical team, the more physical team. It just looked soft.
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The Ball brothers, Lonzo of the Bulls and LaMelo of the Hornets, stand next to each other during Monday's game. The Hornets lost, 133-119.(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Check back in on tomorrow's Roundup to learn more about Saturday's ACC Football Championship Game in Charlotte, including who is playing and how you can watch from home or in person at Bank of America Stadium.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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