New 'One Tree Hill' event still feeling Florence impacts

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The Friends with Benefit Charity Events group is hosting a weekend of events featuring show stars like Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton

WILMINGTON — Good news, “One Tree Hill” fans.

Tric, a popular nightclub from the locally shot The CW series, is officially reopening its doors for a special event months after Hurricane Florence cast doubt on whether it could.

Last fall, Friends with Benefit Charity Events began work on an ambitious renovation of the South Front Street warehouse that housed the bar and concert venue set, out of which they planned to host a special weekend of events Feb. 22-24 benefiting charities like St. Jude Children Hospital.

Among the plans set forth were appearances from a dozen of the show’s cast members (including Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz), a fashion show runway stretching through the building, a recreated Red Bedroom Records set, a concert and a pop-up shop of merchandise. The space, which hadn’t been used much since the show ended in 2012, would need to be renovated to accommodate the vision, but they had plenty of time before the Feb. 22-24 event.

Then Florence hit.

Organizer Rae Agostino said since the storm, the rain from which breached the roof and constantly drenched the second-floor space, there was doubt the repairs could be made in time to execute their vision. The leaking roof began to curl and crack the paint on the concrete floor in the second story, making it difficult to do necessary renovations and costing them some merchandise already stored in the building.

“Every time it rained, and it rained so much afterward, there’s standing water everywhere,” Agostino said. “It just keeps coming down. Downstairs had 4 inches of standing rain.”

The situation became so dire, they lined up the Brooklyn Arts Center as a backup venue.

While they waited for the building’s owner to coordinate the necessary repairs — Friends with Benefit is only leasing the space — Agostino said they wanted to be honest with their guests.

“We want everyone to know the truth of the situation,” she said, noting they post regular updates and even a video tour of the space in a Facebook group.

But on Wednesday, the building’s roof was secured, giving the event the go ahead with just two weeks to pull it all together.

As of now, every event they planned is a-go, including other special surprises like building a temporary basketball court for a party at the former Rivercourt site in Battleship Park.

Sunday’s inclusive fashion show will be attended by Bush and Saturday’s concert will feature Tyler Hilton, Kate Voegele and Bryan Greenberg.

The event is one of two “One Tree Hill” gatherings scheduled for this spring. The other will be EyeCon’s tenth and final “Return to Tree Hill” fan convention March 22-24. That convention began in 2015, and announced it would end late last year.

Although EyeCon has largely cornered the local market on Tree Hill events, Agostino said her vision — which has been building for several years now — is different than what fans may have attended so far.

For one, it’s smaller. EyeCon’s event tend to garner more than 1,000 guests per convention. Agostino’s will be considerably more consolidated at 400-500.

It will also operate with a little more visibility, as the photo sessions that fans pay for with the stars will happen out in the open against iconic props or backdrops in the Tric space.

What the two events share is a support of the local community. Like EyeCon has done in the past, Agostino said her event will is partnering with local businesses to create “One Tree Hill” hotspots that encourage guests to shop and eat local.

With Florence’s wrath now behind them, its full steam ahead to next week.

“It’s happening,” Agostino said. “We are just going to be hard at work over the next two weeks.”

Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or