Our Future Home
By Robert E. Harrington
At long last, our Bar has settled on a site for our new Mecklenburg County Bar and Foundation Center. Once we have completed design and construction, the Bar will be moving from our current space on Queens Road to a new, state-of-the-art facility in the Greenway Business Center. At this new location, we will be able to provide our members with a facility that fulfills the needs of our growing, vibrant, and active 4,500 member Bar, and a facility that will meet our needs well into the future.
On August 23, after an August 14 meeting of the Bar and Foundation's Future Bar and Foundation Center (FBFC) Committee to which all Bar members were invited to provide feedback on the proposed location, the Bar Board of Directors voted unanimously (with one judicial abstention) to approve a contract to purchase the Greenway Business Center site. With this unanimous vote, the Bar took an important step toward completing a process that we started more than ten years ago. In March 2006, the Board created and appointed the FBFC Committee, a joint committee of the Bar and Foundation that has been ably led by Pender McElroy and Bill McMullen. The FBFC Committee has also included other active members of the Bar and the leadership of the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation. Since it was charged with this responsibility, the FBFC Committee, working with Bar and Foundation Executive Director Nancy Roberson and our staff, has reviewed more than 50 sites across Mecklenburg County for their potential as locations for our Bar Center. The Greenway Business Center site provides us with by far the best combination of price, proximity to members of the Bar, and space. We are excited to be planning this move.
Along the way in this process, in 2010, the Bar membership voted to increase our dues. While that process was far from easy, it was critical to maintaining the financial stability of the Bar and to allowing us financially to relocate to a facility that will meet our needs. In the nineteen years since we moved into our current location on Queens Road, our membership has increased from just under 2000 lawyers to our current number of 4,500. With that increase in size has come a need for much more space for the Bar's CLE and other programs, committee and section work, Bar staff, and parking. In addition, the Bar has committed to providing meeting space that can be used by members of the Bar in their own practices.
Pending the completion of due diligence on the Greenway Business Center property - which we anticipate concluding by October 5 - the Bar now moves forward with planning our new facility. We expect the new facility to include approximately 20,000 square feet of usable space. The building will have at least 150 parking spaces, which will alleviate the chronic problems we have experienced with parking at our current location. We will be able to host most the Bar's CLE and other programs onsite, rather than incurring the costs and inconvenience of holding these programs in the variety of rented facilities we now use for these popular programs.
The Greenway Business Center site is located at 2734 Rozelles Ferry Road, just over a half mile west of the campus of Johnson C. Smith University. The business center lies along the Stewart Creek Greenway, and the Bar has selected a site within the business center that takes full advantage of the center's rolling land, old growth trees, and access to the greenway. The business center property includes the old Belvedere Theatre building, which originally opened in 1955 and is now occupied by a dental practice, along with a building occupied by the City of Charlotte Neighborhood and Business Services Office.
In vetting this site, the FBFC Committee and the Bar and Foundation's Executive Committees and Boards of Directors carefully considered the accessibility of the property, security and crime statistics, and proximity to the Bar's membership. Our new home compares favorably in terms of security to uptown Charlotte. The new site and the current site are equidistant from the federal courthouse and nearly equidistant from the corner of Trade and Tryon Streets. The new facility will have easy access to I-77, I-85, and I-277. We will be within one mile from the new developments on the Beatties Ford corridor at Johnson C. Smith, and a short drive from the Charlotte School of Law. All of these particulars can be accessed at www.Meckbar.org.
What these particulars cannot fully capture is our excitement about the fact that we are now months from finally occupying the Bar's new home. Given the low cost of acquiring this property, we will be able to build a facility that will make all of us proud. This facility will be the center of Bar activities for the next generation. We welcome input from the Bar on the new building. Information on that process will be forthcoming. In the meantime, we are grateful for the hard work of the FBFC Committee, our staff, and our Bar and Foundation leadership in getting us an important step closer to our new home.