Oct 10, 2023 - Development

Milestone vote marks the latest chapter for the redevelopment of the 29-acre Eastland site

Eastland rendering

Photo: Courtesy of the City of Charlotte

The old Eastland Mall property is on track to transform into a 29-acre sports, tech, and arts and entertainment venue.

  • The development is tentatively called “The Complex” and will take more than three years to complete. It will be part of Eastland Yards, an 80-acre mixed-use project by the City of Charlotte and developer Crosland Southeast.

Driving the news: Monday night, Charlotte City Council agreed to move forward with this project and commit $30 million in public funding to it.

Why it matters: Plans for the long-neglected property have been mired in skepticism. The city demolished the mall, once an economic driver for the region, after it closed and didn’t use the site for a decade. It’s been over a year since plans for a soccer facility on the site fell through. The city has since considered multiple options, including an aquatics center and a Target.

  • City council’s milestone vote is an indication that the east side will get the economic catalyst it’s long wanted. The Complex seems to incorporate many uses that may satisfy the community.

“There is much work yet to be done before this deal becomes final, but this was clearly a big step in the right direction,” Tim Sittema, managing partner of Crosland Southeast, tells Axios.

Flashback: Two rival bidders, who both wanted to develop the land, merged visions to come up with the potentially $100-million plan. As it was searching for a compromise back in August, the city made an unusual request of the two applicants to join forces. The Complex, just over 40 days later, is the result.

  • EDGE Sports Global, Charlotte Soccer Academy and Southern Entertainment are the partners.

Yes, but: Is this just the “honeymoon” stage? It’s unusual to ask two opponents in a bidding process to collaborate. Council member Renee Perkins Johnson asked a similar question Monday night. All the parties will form an LLC soon, which will then enter an agreement with the city, per city staff.

Details: The latest site plan includes:

  • A 120,000-square-foot indoor sports facility with multipurpose courts that can turn into 10 basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts or 30 pickleball courts.
  • A gym.
  • An ice rink.
  • Leasable space for medical and physical therapy offices.
  • A STEM education and eSports center.
  • A community learning center.
  • Six multi-sport artificial turf fields for soccer, flag football, lacrosse and field hockey.
  • Around 6,000 to 12,000 square feet for food and drink.
  • Around 800 parking spaces.

What they’re saying: Sittema, of Crosland Southeast, is hoping they can soon finalize the details, including proving the financial viability, so construction can start. He previously told council that grading and other work was already happening on the site.

  • “Pairing the indoor sports facility with the outdoor soccer and entertainment facilities and a robust food venue celebrating the ethnic diversity of the area is the best possible combination of uses for the Eastland Yards redevelopment and for all of East Charlotte,” Sittema tells Axios.

Community organization CharlotteEAST also sees the latest updates as promising.

  • “We’ve been kept up to date weekly on how things are progressing, so we’ve been able to see firsthand how the partnership is working,” chair Greg Asciutto says.

By the numbers: The Complex is estimated to make a $169-million economic impact and create 500-plus jobs, according to the city.

Zoom out: The development could host festivals and live music events. But it would not have an 18,000-person amphitheater — a feature in one of the previous proposals that many residents opposed.

  • It also doesn’t include a hotel, but there’s potential to add one as part of future phases of Eastland Yards. There are also plans for a grocery store in a future phase.

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