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The Ivey’s Building – A Legendary Landmark Gets a New Focus for the Future By Scott Homewood

Start your post hereTHE BEGINNINGS


To most of us, February 18th, 1900 might be just a regular winter’s day, but to our beautiful city of Charlotte, it is the day a chain of events began which had a large part to do with shaping and influencing the city. It is an influence which remains to this day. It is the day Joseph Benjamin Ivey, the son of a Methodist preacher, opened a small store room in rented space in uptown and began his business. At the time, Charlotte’s economy was booming thanks in a large part to the cotton mill trade and many businessmen migrated to Charlotte seeking to take advantage of the prosperity here. Does it not seem familiar to what Charlotte experiences today with our booming economy and all the people who come here every year? One thing about Charlotte that few cities can say is that except for the economic downturn of 2008, Charlotte has had unabated growth for many, many years. And, it has hardly been affected by the same economic issues other cities in the country have faced. People of all kinds are moving to Charlotte at a tremendous rate (close to 30,000 people a year) bringing their talents and desires to succeed along with them. This has made economic growth almost inevitable. And so has it been since Ivey moved here, trying to make a way for himself in business, striving to get his store to succeed, little knowing he would have an impact on Charlotte that continues to the present day.


Like all smart businessmen, Ivey soon realized being a merchant in the Bible Belt meant adjusting to connect with his customers. For example, as a devout Methodist, Ivey insisted that the curtains be drawn in his store windows on Sundays, so that the pedestrians would not be tempted to consider matters of this world on the Lord's Day. And today you have a successful business like Chick-Fil-A taking the same position.

Thanks to Charlotte’s economic boom, the population increased and so did Ivey’s business. This forced him out from his small store room uptown and into the building that still bares his name. The elegant building at Fifth and North Tryon Street was designed by architect William H. Peeps and opened as the new home of J. B. Ivey & Company in 1924. Business continued to boom as the citizens of Charlotte and the surrounding areas flocked to his beautiful flagship store. The original building was renovated and enlarged in 1939. Over the next 50 years, Ivey’s not only dominated the retail business of uptown Charlotte, but continued to expand all over North Carolina and down as far as Florida. Ivey himself was a man of many hobbies who devoted great amounts of time and energy to growing flowers, and some longtime residents may remember that the restaurant in Ivey's Department Store was once named the Tulip Terrace. Sadly, as time went on and the concept of the enclosed shopping mall became popular, Ivey’s competitors such as Belks and Efirds moved out of the uptown area and to the malls in the suburbs. Eventually, Ivey's was bought out by Marshall Field's in 1980 who would itself be purchased by BATUS Retail Group in 1982. Field's and its’ other concerns The Crescent, Frederick & Nelson, and Ivey's divisions joined other BATUS divisions such as Gimbel's, Kohl's, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Eventually, BATUS sold Ivey's to Dillard's on May 4th, 1990, prior to the sale of Marshall Field's to the Dayton Hudson Corporation. With the changes in lifestyle trends and people mostly fleeing from uptown areas around the country to a more suburban landscape, uptown Charlotte suffered and could no longer support new retail businesses that would have bolstered Ivey’s. So the decision was made to close the uptown store for good. The building was converted into luxury condominiums shortly there after. With the historic Ivey's Department Store converted to condos in 1995 by local architect Jim Gross.

Besides the flagship building itself, little pieces of the Ivey’s chain still remain in Charlotte despite the chain itself being defunct. The most notable is Arthur’s Wine Shop and Restaurant, a onetime fixture in the local Ivey’s stores, the business is still going strong today inside of the Belk’s Southpark location.

The first main renovation to the building after Ivey’s department store shut down was the conversion of the top four floors of the building into residential condominiums. These condominiums include living spaces with ceilings ranging from 14-22 feet with 10 foot windows, exposed beams, hardwood floors and fireplaces. The building includes a security desk that is manned 24 hours a day, and has private underground parking. The condominiums have proven to be very popular and have been filled consistently with little turn over since they were built. The second part of the original renovations after the department store shut down was to convert the first two floors into retail and office spaces, somewhat to keep the idea of retail in uptown Charlotte alive despite losing the popular department store. These renovations were finished before the dotcom boom and ended up containing small fast food style restaurants and offices of one type or another. Businesses would come and go, but the trend pretty much stayed the same. The back of the building, facing Church street had become various restaurants and bars over the years with the popular restaurant 5Church being the current, and one of the most popular tenants.

Thankfully, the building has been given yet another new lease on life, one that will surely take the legendary Ivey’s name into the future and give it even more luster. MRK Property Development bought the first and second floors of the building in multiple transactions starting in 2012 and 2013, and began a multimillion dollar renovation. MRK paid just under $4 million for the 45,000 square-foot space. It has been converted into an upscale hotel concern by a company with previous luxury boutique hotels in Asheville and Miami. The Ivey’s Hotel is the third boutique hotel in The Desirant Hotel Collection which was imagined and then curated by the owners of MRK Investments. A 42-room boutique getaway in the heart of Uptown that blends the city’s history with a Parisian flair combined with a new modern twist. The Ivey’s Hotel is here to provide its guests with The Ultimate Boutique Experience. By blending classic Parisian glamour with contemporary touches, the hotel is truly a unique treat for their guests.

While touring the hotel I was amazed at the list of amenities. I was told the new Ivey’s Hotel offers a complimentary Library Lounge access, continental breakfast, a state of the art Fitness Center, conference and meeting space, valet parking, transportation services, laundry and dry cleaning, business and shipping services, restaurant reservations, sporting and event tickets, and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. The rooms themselves are amazingly beautiful. It was hard to imagine just a few years prior, I was walking these rooms as different spaces – some of these incredible suites were right where the WOK Bar was, other rooms were where the Dollar stores were. It was mind-blowing, to be sure! I could only imagine what a customer of Ivey’s department store would think of the space now!


Even the lobby, was simply amazing! It is a very comfortable room, almost designed like a library in regards to furnishings, but with over sized windows looking onto Tryon and low office desks with comfortable chairs in front so guests will have a more comfortable, personal experience checking in.


I was shown all four variations of room “schemes” (Superior Atrium, City View, Balcony Suite and Executive Suite) and some things immediately jump out, the first thing being the various rooms’ décor which manages to fuse the vintage with the contemporary. It’s very Parisian in style yet with very sleek, modern touches including all sorts of custom-made art deco luxury items infused with midcentury modern richness while giving the distinct impression of a Parisian setting. The unique light fixtures, crystal accents and mirrors add plenty of glitter and personality and I was informed that every lamp, chair, picture, mirror, and table (right down to the drawer handles) was either handpicked by one of the owners, who fancies himself an interior decorator (he’s not by trade, but has done an incredible job here) or a craftsman hired by the owners who made the item or décor to their specs. The 400-year-old authentic French oak floors and exposed brick add much to the charm, as do the detailed molding and woodwork which was also made by craftsmen hired by the owners to their specs and special to the Ivey’s Hotel. Each have an individual look and neither will look like any other Ivey Hotel. Vintage magazine pages and posters showcasing Parisian couture and culture in the early 1900s grace the walls of the hallways, black-and-white versions have been blown up and framed to make a statement. Each room also has its’ own special artwork scheme, with no two rooms having the exact same décor. Another point of interest is that antique watch faces have been transformed into custom framed art throughout the hotel, and the grand staircase is accented with scrolling, wrought-iron railings. Each piece helps create a warm, comfortable and memorable environment that guest’s will immediately appreciate. Each room also has a giant flat-screen television complete with a Bose Soundbar, fully stocked wet bar, Dean & DeLuca snacks, Nespresso coffee and incredibly comfortable Italian bedding. The executive suites measure roughly 800 square feet and room rates start at $299 to just over $600 per night. Each room features reclaimed French oak floors, custom designed lighting fixtures, bespoke furnishings, natural foam mattresses, and Frette Italian luxury linens. There is also a curated art collection. Some rooms have extra accoutrements depending on size and function plus the amenities listed above.


A beautiful hotel bar called Sophia’s Lounge will be open facing 5th street (across from Dandelion Market) and will feature accordion windows that can be completely opened and will have sumptuous decor which will follow the same French elegance theme as the rest of the hotel. The ambiance will provide the perfect place for a cocktail, but more importantly, add another elegant cocktail lounge that uptown so desperately needs. Right now, it is slated that the folks behind the popular bar 5Church will run this elegant space with their chefs creating a new small bite menu specifically for Sophia’s. Of course, a creative cocktail menu will also be curated. It makes perfect sense for 5Church to be involved as the bar also provides all the room service meal requests for the hotel. There is a large space next to the hotel bar facing 5th street in the middle of the block that may eventually be used for retail space or another restaurant. Since the owners of the Ivey’s hotel now own the space QDoba is leasing, should the fast food restaurant ever leave, it would allow the hotel owners to add yet another attraction should they wish, possibly a French bakery or café.




Luxe Lifestyle Magazine
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Charlotte, NC 28271
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