Proposed plans for the old Eastland Mall site discussed

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The old Eastland Mall site is one step closer to getting developed as Charlotte City's Economic Development Committee is reviewing three options.

One plan includes a dense new urbanist concept that will include residential uses. Another plan calls for an amateur sports facility with limited residential and non-residential uses.

Some neighbors say they'd like a sports facility in their community.

"It will liven back up again. Give some life, give us something to do, somewhere to go without having to travel outside of our area," Charlotta Griffin said.

Another option is a health and wellness concept that will include a limited mix of residential, non-residential, and educational uses. The concept will also include hiking and walking trails. Some neighbors approve of that plan as well.

"The whole idea of the wellness center kind of takes the healthcare club a step further and kind of taps into newer approaches for all of us baby boomers," Joe McGirt said. "That will increase the interest in this neck of the woods - something new and different."

Eastland Mall closed about 10 years ago and still, nothing has been developed on the nearly 70 acres of land. There have been plans from building a movie studio to a Hispanic-themed mall. All those plans fell through.

"It's been a struggle for a long time to get that project activated," Griffin said.

City leaders say they will not make the same mistake twice.

"I think we are going to do a better job vetting each proposal," Charlotte City At-Large Councilman James Mitchell said. "We are going to make sure we manage expectations."

Mitchell also says affordable housing will not be a priority for the new development. Research shows affordable housing is already present on the east side of the city.

"We want to lead with synergy. We want to lead with mixed use. We want to lead with a 30-year plan," Mitchell said.

There is no word on how much it will cost to develop the land - that has not been finalized. The city of Charlotte still has about $400,000 left earmarked for development of the site.

The city's Economic Development Committee will make a recommendation sometime in December. The full city council could possibly make a final decision near the beginning of January.

Mitchell says there will be just one developer responsible for the project. He believes there is an advantage to using one developer.

"You can make sure one vision is implemented instead of several developers with competing interests," Mitchell said.

Neighbors hope that this time the city comes through. They are hungry for some attention on their side of town.

"Long time coming," Griffin said. "I really hope it happens."

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