When two couples who live in uptown’s Fourth Ward saw a historic house in their neighborhood listed for sale, they started worrying about its fate.
Not only was the house over a century old, it also is home to the popular tapas restaurant and bar Poplar.
“We wanted that kind of property to be in the hands of people that value the neighborhood and won’t tear it down,” Heath Knott told The Charlotte Observer Thursday. So the couples wound up buying the site for $2.2 million in a deal that is expected to close Friday.
Knott and husband Adam Schooler, along with Brian and Brittani Phillips, formed 701 North Poplar Street LLC.
All four also are part of Friends of Fourth Ward neighborhood association, a nonprofit dedicated to community development. And together, they have combined experience in real estate, development, construction, and renovation and restoration.
“We share a passion for protecting and enhancing Fourth Ward,” Knott said. In fact, Knott and Schooler have restored other Victorian homes, including another nearby home at 428 N. Polar St.
On Friday, the friends will close on the 122-year-old, two-story white commercial house at 224 W. 10th St., known as the Morrison House, for $2.2 million, Knott said.
And, Poplar, which opened in 2016, will remain there, Knott said. “For now, it stays just like it is,” he said.
About the historic Charlotte house
Built in 1900, the over 3,300-square-foot Queen Ann-style house was owned by descendants of Dr. Robert Hall Morrison, the founder and first president of Davidson College.
In 1983, James and Rosemary Latimore purchased the property and opened Poplar Street Books, a used bookstore, according to a news release from Knott’s company, York Venture.
In 1999, Lucia Zapata Griffith purchased the house for $415,000, Mecklenburg County property records show. Griffith is owner of Charlotte architectural and construction firm Metro Landmarks.
In 2016, Poplar restaurant opened, owned by Griffith and executive chef Bruno Macchiavello.
On May 3, the property was listed for sale for $2 million with the Charlotte office of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.
With a strong housing market, Griffith told the Observer Friday that it was an opportune time to be “picky” about who would buy the historic house. Within a day of listing it, there were multiple offers, she said.
“I bought it as a project and I just fell in love with the house,” Griffith said. “I’m super happy it’s going to stay preserved. “It’s a piece of history and downtown doesn’t have a lot of that.”
Griffith will keep an office upstairs and will remain part of the restaurant. “Everything is the same for the restaurant,” she said.
About Poplar tapas and bar
Poplar, known for its Peruvian-inspired tapas and patio with views of Charlotte’s skyline, has several options for event space on the first floor and second floor board room, as well as front and back patios, according to the restaurant’s website.
Poplar owner Griffith has two partners, according to the restaurant’s website, executive chef Bruno Macchiavello and historic preservation advocate Yolanda Johnson. Macchiavello is also co-owner of the new Peruvian restaurant in South End, Yunta.
Poplar’s has seating in front for over 40 people, plus seating in back, according to the real estate listing. The upstairs features a full bath, conference room and offices.
Poplar will continue to be a part of neighborhood activities, such as garden and Christmas tours, Griffith said in an emailed statement Friday.
“We will continue our international events such as the popular Italian Night, Noche de Tango and Paella at the Porch,” she said. And Macchiavello is creating new menu items, too, Griffith said.
More about the new owners
The four new owners are part of Friends of Fourth Ward neighborhood association.
The two couples, who are friends, decided to join forces on the venture to purchase the Morrison House, Knott said.
The Phillips founded the medical technology company MedShift. Brittani Phillips has been in real estate for 22 years. The couple also owns East Boulevard Development, which is the developer of a 300-plus luxury rental project in Dilworth at East Boulevard and Lombardy Circle.
Schooler and Knott have renovated and restored several homes in Fourth Ward, Plaza Midwood, Myers Park and Eastover neighborhoods.
Knott is founder and managing partner of the 22-year-old commercial real estate firm York Ventures. Schooler is a residential general contractor, specializing in luxury home building.
They plan to make enhancements to the garden where the patio is an integral part of the property. “It’s been pretty well-maintained,” Knott said.
Another historic house sold
The 2 1/2-story blue and cream red-shuttered building at 401 W. 9th St. sold for nearly $1.6 million on March 16 to 24th Street Partners, Mecklenburg County property records show. Stephen Good Hood and Srinivas Mannava are listed as managers, state records show.
Knott said having missed out on the purchase of that property, the four friends didn’t want to risk the opportunity at 224 W. 10th St. with the Morrison House.
“To have a commercial property like that, it’s really is a keystone to the neighborhood,” Knott said.
This story was originally published May 27, 2022 6:00 AM.