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Atrium Health has announced it’s planning to open a new health center in South Park, and it’s geared toward women’s health. The move comes just two years after Charlotte’s other large health system, Novant Health, opened its own women’s health center, also in South Park. For more, “Morning Edition” host Marshall Terry talks to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger business newsletter.

Tony Mecia: Some of the experts we talked to said it’s a few different things. First off, is the recognition that men and women have different health needs that go beyond differences in reproductive organs and giving birth, but even to things like heart health and neurology, I mean, that those are some of the specialties that are opening up in some of these women’s specialty health clinics that Novant and Atrium are opening. You know, there’s been an emerging understanding that men and women have different health needs. And so this is a way to address that. That’s part of it. The other part of it is that it’s, I think, a little bit of a marketing niche in the sense that women make most health care decisions in households. And so if you can appeal to women and sort of get them in the door and expose them to your other services, then it’s a business benefit to you as well.

Marshall Terry: Well, any idea why both are located in the same area? SouthPark?

Mecia: Well, the experts we talked to said that typically competitors don’t like to cede ground to their rivals, so they like to locate in the same area. The other part of it is, you know, that South Park is in a wealthier area of town where presumably more people are able to pay for services and have higher levels of insurance.

Terry: All right. From health to fitness now. The Morrison YMCA in Ballantyne is planning to add a retractable dome over its swimming pool. I assume this is so folks can go swimming this time of year when it’s cold.

Mecia: It is. It sounds kind of cool. They have a rendering, a video that shows this thing opening and closing. It’s it’s pretty neat. The cost is about $2.5 million. The Y is fundraising for it. They’ve already raised more than $1,000,000. And the idea is to make it so that you can swim there year round. You know, right now, obviously, you know, typically outdoor pools are open only, you know, between around Memorial Day and Labor Day. This would extend the life of the pool year round. You get to swim teams, you know, water ballet classes, lap swimming. You know, Charlotte tends to have a shortage of indoor pools for swim meets and things like that. They’re also expanding the pool to eight lanes that’s supposed to be ready by next summer. And then the goal would be to start construction on the dome at the end of next summer.

Terry: All right. On to some grocery store news now. Earth Fare has announced it’s closing its store in Davidson. And now I remember Earth Fare closing all of its stores right before the pandemic, only to then reopen some stores. What’s going on with them?

Mecia: Yeah, there’s been a lot of opening and closing of Earth Fare right before the pandemic in February 2020. Earth Fare filed for bankruptcy protection, closed all 50 of its stores. Pandemic hits in March of 2020, and grocery sales everywhere else go through the roof. A new company buys the Earth Fare name and reopens some of the stores last year and including several in the Charlotte region. But now some of those stores that have reopened have started to close, including one in South Park. This Davidson store was actually a new store. It wasn’t an existing Earth Fare previously, but it’s closing. There are still four Earth Fare stores in the Charlotte region. Who knows where it goes from here?

Terry: So is it just an underperforming store? I mean, do you know?

Mecia: Yeah. I think the company said in a statement that there were some geographical problems with this site. Maybe, you know, it’s a little bit smaller, harder to get to. I think that’s what some of what they were trying to say obviously wasn’t performing to expectations.

Terry: Finally, Tony, a Charlotte holiday tradition is coming to an end, the animatronic Bear Symphony that has played holiday tunes in uptown Founder’s Hall for almost 25 years will not be there this year.

Terry: Now, Tony, I have to tell you, I have fond memories of seeing the Leonard Berstein Symphony Orchestra, as it’s called. So why is it not coming back?

Mecia: Well, that’s a very good question, Marshall, and the answer is not really that straightforward. You know, what we’re talking about here is 18 robotic Christmas bears who have played holiday music and Founders Hall uptown since 1999, they didn’t play there in 2020 or 2021 because of COVID. Now that the pandemic has receded, though, the bears are apparently not coming back. I talked last weekend with the contractor who sets up and runs the Bears, and he said there are no plans for the Bears to return to Founders Hall, but he really didn’t say much else. Now there are just so you can get your holiday music fix.
There are quartets of singing robotic bears planned in Kannapolis this year and maybe in Mint Hill, but the outlook for that full 18-piece orchestra is uncertain. **

Terry: All right, Tony, the holidays just won’t be the same this year. Thank you.

**In a statement Bank of America said “Bank of America has a longstanding and unrivaled commitment to and overall investment in Charlotte.” The bank also pointed to other bank-sponsored holiday activities, such as a large tree at its Corporate Center and in its plaza outside and also decorations around the perimeter of Founders Hall.

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