Movement at Eastland: City files rezoning petition for MLS development

City files to rezone old mall for soccer site

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The City of Charlotte has filed a rezoning petition for the Eastland Mall site. It’s only the beginning of a years long process developing the property into a hub for the new Major League Soccer team and potentially a new incubator for growth on the east side of the city.

The rezoning petition could be voted on by city council as soon as May.
The rezoning petition could be voted on by city council as soon as May.

While development plans still must be worked out between the city, Crosland Southeast and Tepper Sports, Charlotte Economic Development Director Tracy Dodson imagines there will be a mix of commercial real estate, and high- and low-density residential units to go along with the Major League Soccer team headquarters and practice fields.

“It’s one more step forward and it’s really exciting that something that the community has wanted for so long is finally starting to make its way to reality,” Dodson said.

However, it is unlikely the soccer projects will be completed in time for the start of the 2021 MLS season when the Charlotte franchise will begin its inaugural season. A city spokesperson said that was always likely to be the case and didn’t come as a surprise.

Dodson said details about how many soccer fields at the facility are going to be allowed for public use is something that is still up for negotiation. It’s not yet determined how much, if any, of the $110 million in hospitality funds the city pledged to the MLS project will be used on the Eastland development.

Dodson said that talks with Tepper and his team are happening weekly.

The zoning petition will change the property and an additional eight acres yet to be acquired by the city to MX-2 and MUDD-O zoning uses. Both districts would allow for mixed use development being sought by the development partners.

While exact details of the development are yet to be worked out Dodson says there’s a general idea of what the property will look like when completed.

A row/layer of commercial development along Central Avenue.

High-density residential units directly behind the commercial properties.

Low-density residential units on the north side of the property

Soccer fields and headquarters toward the east side of the property.

Whether the city will still own the land still has to be negotiated but Dodson said that even if the city does continue to own and lease the property it will only have a minority ownership stake in the land.

Before the soccer fields and new buildings, developers will have the install new infrastructure on the property. Roads, sewer, lights and more are all necessities that will stretch out the completion date for several years even in a best-case scenario.

The zoning changes will happen more quickly though with public meetings starting in late February to early March and a vote by city county potentially in May.

Other takeaways from the rezoning process.

- The CATS transit center will stay at the current location for now but CATS is looking at other options and better locations.

- A deal with a group leasing the Eastland site for an open air market still has to be worked out.

- No determination has been made on whether the property will have affordable housing or use city and federal subsidies such has TIF and opportunity zones.

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