Jun 5, 2023 - News

Eastland update: City considers new athletics complex proposal for former mall site

Eastland Yards. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Editor’s note: We first published this story in March 2023 and updated it on April 27, May 1 and June 5 with the latest information.

The City of Charlotte is entertaining proposals for how to make the best use of nearly 30 acres at Eastland Yards.

Driving the news: The city is moving forward with vetting two bids: One new proposal, submitted in June, for an indoor sports complex and another for QC East, envisioned as an athletics, esports and events center.

  • The city has eliminated a racquet and entertainment district, a Target and an aquatics center from the running.

Catch up quick: The city is working with developer Crosland Southeast to transform the old Eastland Mall into an economic driver for east Charlotte. 

  • Crosland Southeast started construction in August on the rest of the project, which will include 155 single-family homes and townhomes, 280 multi-family units, 17,500 square feet of office and retail space, and a five-acre Mecklenburg County park. Future phases will include a grocery store.
  • Tepper Sports & Entertainment planned to build a Charlotte FC practice facility on the site with $110 million in public hospitality funds. But the company pulled out in favor of another location.

[Go deeper: Eastland redevelopment will move forward without Tepper Sports and Entertainment]

Why it matters: For years, the city has grappled with what to do with the old site of Eastland Mall, which closed in 2010. Developers have proposed all kinds of plans for the property, and they all failed.

  • Like the mall once did, the public-private partnership is intended to serve as an economic driver for east Charlotte, which includes many underserved areas.

The proposals are narrowed down to two finalists.

Indoor sports complex

  • Details: A roughly 115,000-square-foot indoor facility with 10 indoor basketball courts that can be used as 20 volleyball courts or 40 pickleball courts, a Carolina sports hall of fame and a learning academy.
  • Outside, there would be soccer fields, outdoor basketball courts, a jogging trail, a playground, 700 parking spaces and a possible hotel.
  • A future phase could include a mixed-use development, with ice rinks, a medical office and retail space, and some type of family entertainment, such as an arcade.
  • The money: $40 million in private investment and $28 million in public investment, a $1-per-year ground lease.
  • Economic impact: $129 million annually; 250,000 visitors.
  • Applicant: Synergy Sports, a Charlotte-based sports consulting company.

QC East: Athletics, events and esports center

  • Details: Six multi-use athletic fields, an amphitheater, and a 20,000-square-foot “Hub” technology lab, esports center and event space for up to 2,500 people, which opens up to the outdoors
  • The money: $30 million in public investment and $22 million in private investment.
  • The land would be purchased from the city at market value.
  • Economic impact: $111 million annually; 683 full-time jobs.
  • Applicant: Southern Entertainment, a Charlotte-based event company that has produced events like the Carolina Country Music Festival; the Charlotte Soccer Academy and Carolina Esports Hub, in which Charlotte City Council member Tariq Bokhari is a minority investor.

Of note: Because City Council is ultimately deciding on which bid to select, Bokhari says he will recuse himself from council deliberations and considerations on Eastland moving forward.

What they’re saying: Council member Malcolm Graham, chair of the city’s Jobs and Economic Development Committee, said Monday he sees QC East as “in the driver’s seat” at this point, while the city is doing due diligence on the sports complex.

  • “I’m very ready to make a decision,” Graham said. “We’re to the point where we have to send a clear message to the community as a whole what we’re going to do.”

What’s next: There will be a meeting to collect community feedback on the two proposals later in June. It’s unknown when council will finalize a decision, but it won’t be until later this summer at the earliest.


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