Developer, city's plan for Eastland Mall site falling apart? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Developer, city's plan for Eastland Mall site falling apart?

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Construction crews are clearing the land at the old Eastland Mall site where some thought a film studio would go up. But now those plans appear closer to being cut, at least with Studio Charlotte. The developer and city leaders met Thursday afternoon, but the two sides just aren't seeing eye to eye.

Earlier in March, Studio Charlotte's CEO said this deal was on life support and after Thursday's economic development committee meeting he said it doesn't look any better.

City staff told members of the city's economic development committee that Studio Charlotte has not given them any more financial information since March 6th.

"There was no end game in this," explained Bert Hesse, CEO of Studio Charlotte, "Do we get the land? Do we get a TIF? Do we buy it for 13 million dollars? What is the end decision besides to ask us for more material, more information, and spend more time on this?"

Council has to decide what to do with the Eastland Mall land which construction crews will hand back to the city in 45 days.

City staff recommended to decline Studio Charlotte's request to extend its exclusive relationship for another six months. Staff also recommended to design storm water infrastructure and a plan to divvy up the 82 acres keeping the back part for a possible studio. It keeps the possibility of the film industry at the site but Hesse said it most likely won't be his studio.

"You can't keep convincing someone to marry you. So after awhile you say I understand," said Hesse after the meeting.

During the meeting, city council member Lawana Mayfield said, "But for me it feels like we're getting ready to start this process all over."

"And I share the feeling," said head of the committee, Michael Barnes, "Because we were led to believe that there was a substantive project there that was going to be moving forward quickly and that was not the case."

"That's why at some point you have to cut your losses and say you know we tried, this didn't work out," said Hesse.

City council will vote on the recommendations at Monday's meeting. Studio Charlotte's CEO said he won't put any more work into the deal with the city until he knows if state lawmakers will support film tax credits.

"This all comes down to Raleigh. If Raleigh's decision is that they're not very motivated or interested into attract and increase the film industry to North Carolina. It doesn't matter what kind of relationship we have with the city it just wouldn't work anyway," said Hesse.

Hesse said state lawmakers will vote on those tax credits this short session starting in May. 

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