Jan 29, 2020 - News

Eastland is one step closer to turning into a major sports and entertainment district

Eastland Mall

Eastland Mall

The old Eastland Mall site is one step closer to transforming into a huge mixed-use development anchored by a Major League Soccer team.

On Wednesday morning, the city filed a rezoning petition for the nearly 78-acre site, which is on Central Avenue between North Sharon Amity and Albemarle roads.

It’s a broad, technical step, but an important one as the city and its partners — the developer Crosland Southeast and Tepper Sports and Entertainment — move ahead with plans to revitalize Eastland.

The purpose of the rezoning is to establish the land uses for the east Charlotte property. It will be a mix of residential (homes and apartments), commercial (restaurants and entertainment), and sports (MLS). According to the petition, at least two acres are to be designated for public park.

Eastland rezoning
Rezoning petition for Eastland Mall property (courtesy of the city of Charlotte)

It’ll likely be at least two years until the MLS facility opens, says Tracy Dodson, the city’s economic development director.

That’s because, following the design and permitting processes, construction crews will have to do a large amount of site work on the property, including installing sewers and paving roads.

In a briefing with reporters Tuesday, Dodson, who is also the assistant city manager, said the next step in the process will be a public meeting in early March.

“Our community engagement does not stop there,” Dodson says. “This has been a community project since the beginning. We will stick to that.”

MLS officials awarded Charlotte the league’s 30th expansion team in December. To support the team, the city has committed $110 million in public funds. That money will go toward the work at Eastland, renovations at Bank of America Stadium, and creation of an entertainment district around the stadium.

Charlotte’s MLS team is supposed to start playing in 2021. The team will have to practice in a temporary location until Eastland is ready.

The plan was always to move quickly with MLS headquarters and practice facilities as part of the project’s initial steps, Dodson says. “You have to get some rooftops and some commercial in the first phase (also) to make it so it’s that mixture of uses.”

Eastland has been zoned for a mall ever since the once-popular shopping center closed in 2010.

The city of Charlotte bought the property in 2012 for $13.2 million and tore the mall down a year later.

Ever since, city officials have grappled with what to do with the site. Proposals from developers over the years have proposed a range of uses for the property, from adding a ski slope to building a movie studio.

The city selected Crosland Southeast as the master developer for Eastland in late 2018. Crosland is the developer behind a number of high-profile projects in the area, including Birkdale Village in Huntersville.

Here’s a bit more about the future of the site, according to the city:

  • The Eastland transit center will stay as-is for now. Charlotte Area Transit System is open to considering “other options,” Dodson says, depending on the Eastland site plans.
  • The open-air market that pops up each weekend has a lease with the city that expires on April 21. Dodson says the city has talked about potentially accommodating the market once demolition starts.
  • More details about what the site will look like will come with the city’s development agreements with Crosland and Tepper Sports. Those agreements will likely be released in the late spring or early summer.
  • A public hearing before city council will take place sometime in April. A vote could come in May.
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