CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - East Charlotte will hopefully be seeing changes after a new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened Wednesday.
"I never thought I'd be so happy to see a Wal-Mart," said East Charlotte resident Terry Belk.
Belk has lived in East Charlotte for ten years, slowly watching his neighborhood go downhill. Now, he has new hope.
"We needed this badly. I'm hoping this is the catalyst for more development in this area," Belk said.
The new super Wal-Mart on East Independence opened at 7:30 am on Wednesday. Hours later, the parking lot was already packed.
But while the Wal-Mart parking lot filled up, just a hundred feet away, the lot at the Coliseum Center was almost abandoned. Road construction on Independence Boulevard and the slow economy caused one business after another to head to greener pastures.
Earth Angel is one of the few places left. The owner is hopeful his new super-neighbor will come to the rescue.
"I think it's a step in the right direction for this section of Independence," said store owner Paul Williams. "Generally Wal-Mart will attract other businesses."
What about the old Wal-Mart on Eastway Drive? It'll soon be empty, leaving a dozen other businesses without an anchor store.
But, surprisingly, many shop owners aren't worried.
"Actually it's helped a lot," said Le's Pharmacy owner Martin Le. "A lot of people have brought in their prescriptions."
Le pointed out that many of his customers walk to the shopping center. He is hopeful business will only get better.
Back at the new Wal-Mart, you can already see new signs of life in East Charlotte. Neighbors and businesses are hoping it's just the beginning.
"This is considered a depressed area, and with this Wal-Mart here it could be the start of something big," Belk said.