Last Cup of Joe for Charlotte Landmark

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Michael Moore's film Capitalism: A Love Story hits theatres on Friday. The film explores our national credit crisis and how this had a domino effect with ills of all sorts, including the increasing foreclosure problem nationwide.

It is fitting to expose another victim of greed and the credit crunch: an historic Charlotte, North Carolina coffee house which was demolished last Thursday.

The Coffee Cup Eatery opened in 1946. During the dark days of racial segregation, it served both white and black patrons. In 2007, it was recognized as a historic landmark by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmark Commission.

So who got a bad case of capitalism and knocked it to the ground?

Builder Beazer Homes USA, our nation's ninth-largest builder, purchased the Coffee Cup Eatery and surrounding site in 2005. It was the height of the housing market boom and Beazer paid a cool $16.7 million for a spot in desirable uptown Charlotte.

The plan? Turn the site into a 400-unit residential and retail complex.

The Coffee Cup closed in 2007 after its owner was unable to negotiate with Beazer to continue operating it. Next came the permit request for demolition. The city moved to designate the site as a landmark, which served to delay the destruction for one year.

Beazer offered to sell the building and about two acres of land to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmark Commission for more than $1 million. However, this was too expensive for the group, which seeks to preserve endangered historic structures by buying and selling them.

Quotes the Wall Street Journal:

"It was a place where people of all walks of life and persuasions and ethnicities could come together and share a meal," Dan Morrill, a historian and the commission's consulting director, told the Observer. "That symbol is now lost."

via Wall Street Journal, Charlotte Obsever
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