Community concerned with new proposal for Eastland Yards, city’s previous lack of action

A new proposal includes athletic fields, an esports hub and more at the former Eastland Mall site.
A new proposal includes athletic fields, an esports hub and more at the former Eastland Mall site.
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 7:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A new proposal for the Eastland Yards development could bring sports and entertainment to east Charlotte.

While the proposal seems exciting, the community has concerns about the potential of the project and more accountability from the city.

“We want to create jobs, again, we want that to be a memorable location where people can go to, leave and absolutely want to come back to,” Richard Suarez, the managing director and founding member of Carolina Esports, said.

Suarez is part of the QC East partnership that includes Southern Entertainment, the Charlotte Soccer Academy and Carolina Esports Hub. QC East is behind plans for a fourth proposal for the eastern portion of the formal Eastland Mall site.

The new proposal for the old Eastland Mall site includes six multi-use athletic fields, an esports center, a learning hub and event space holding up 2,500 people.

In order to pay for the potential project, $53 million would be raised privately, with the city chipping in an additional $30 million.

“There are certainly some exciting and transformative developments for this proposal,” Greg Asciutto, the Board of Directors Chair for CharlotteEAST, said. “It does promise to create the transformative destination that, you know, I think we in east Charlotte have been looking forward to for quite some time.”

Despite the proposal checking all boxes, CharlotteEAST has concerns about the proposal.

Some of those concerns include transportation issues, the timeline to completion, a safety net if one of the partners back out of the plan, and fears of the city approving a new proposal too quickly.

“The concerns at this point really are outweighing the excitement and the promise and the fanfare from not just our organization, but from community members that we’re hearing from surrounding neighborhoods and throughout the east Charlotte community,” Asciutto said.

Concerns extend partially from the lack of action from the City of Charlotte, including failure to set a deadline to decide, and how much money the city is willing to provide developers.

“If the city is not willing to make an affirmative date for when a decision will be made, it’s fair of our community to ask the city to seek support from the county in getting this deal done,” Asciutto said.

CharlotteEAST said that along with the new proposal from Southern Entertainment for Eastland Yards, we can expect modifications to the other proposals presented to the city months ago.

The Jobs and Economic Development Council Committee will meet Monday for updates.

Related: New proposal for Eastland includes athletic fields and a tech lab