Eastland beats crime trend, neighbors have other concerns now

By Sharon Smith - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The former Eastland Mall property is beating one crime trend when it comes to crime. Typically, vacant buildings attract trouble like vandalism and graffiti. However, police say they've seen few problems since the mall shut down six months ago.

Meanwhile, some neighbors say they are concerned about the mall's future once it reopens. Boxer Properties, based in Texas, bought a large parcel of the property over the summer.

Boxer plans to open a Latino-themed retail center, similar to their Plaza Fiesta property near  Carowinds. Boxer also has a successful Latino-themed retail center in Houston.

"I just don't think catering to only the Latino community in Charlotte is necessarily going to generate the maximum profit," said Ed Garber, leader of the Eastside PAC, an advocacy group for east Charlotte progress.

Garber says he's concerned a niche retail center might not sustain the property long-term and fuel further development along the corridor. He says the concept should be inclusive, and more centered around middle-class shoppers.

"Don't confuse theme with the customer," said Andrew Segal of Boxer Properties. Segal said they expect to attract a wide range of customers.

He said there is no timeframe for opening in 2011.  "The sale was quick, the plan is deliberate," he said.

City councilwoman Nancy Carter expects to travel to Houston in February to see the Boxer property in person.

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