After years and, in fact a decade or more, a revamp of Eastland Mall is finally on the horizon. There have been many different plans over the years since the mall closed, but this one is finally unanimously approved by City Council and is set to get started. The end result should be a combination of mixed-income housing, retail, offices, a grocery store, and green space. The headquarters for the Major League Soccer academy will also be onsite.
The mall opened in July of 1975 and was unique because it had an ice skating rink inside. After a long decline resulting in the closure of the anchor stores, and grocery store, the city purchased the 69-acre site. The mall was demolished in 2013 and currently houses the Eastland Community Transit Center in the parking lot. It is located in the heart of East Charlotte with Central Avenue, Albemarle Road and North Sharon Amity Roads as the boundaries.
This new development has been a long time coming as there have been a few plans over the years that have not come to fruition. The demographics of the area and rising crime rate were some of the reasons for the closure in the first place, but as prices of homes close to the city have risen, the area around Eastland Mall has become more attractive and the empty site has come back into focus as prime for redevelopment.
The new plan was a joint effort by developers, city council, and the community. It calls for the city to commit $35 million in hospitality funds to Tepper Sports for work at the Eastland Mall site and Uptown for renovations at the Bank of America Stadium which is where Charlotte FC will play games. Tepper will develop a master plan for the entertainment district near the stadium Uptown as well. Tepper Sports will commit to 9 years in those locations beginning in 2022.
Additionally the city will reimburse developer Crosland Southeast for the infrastructure work they will start on the site. Residents of East Charlotte hope that this development is a catalyst to spur additional growth in the area. With this revamp, city council has committed taxpayers to a $60 million investment. There is an additional $13-15 million from Mecklenburg County still undecided that should bring a 3-acre park and additional infrastructure for the site.
It is estimated that the revitalization should bring upwards of $200 million of private investment to this part of East Charlotte which has struggled for many years.
The sports complex will anchor the site and will have a multi-field player academy and a 15,000 square foot building for the Charlotte FC Major League Soccer Club. In addition to all of that, Tepper Sports is committing to a “Community Benefits Agreement” which is an outreach program with the community that could include coaching and equipment donations.
Preparations on the site should get started this winter and include utilities, stormwater drainage, grading, and other infrastructure. The project should be completed by the end of 2022.