City narrows proposals for part of the Eastland Yards project

City staff recommended two of the four projects move forward with being vetted. There is no timeline for a decision in sight.
Community members are anxious to find out what will fill the eastern void of the Eastland Yards project.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 5:23 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As the western part of the Eastland Yards project is under construction, plans for roughly 20 acres are still up in the air.

The city did move a step closer to the future of that part of Eastland Yards as people living in the surrounding area are eager to see what happens to the property after the continued disappointment of failed projects.

City staff recommended two of the four projects move forward with being vetted. There is no timeline for a decision in sight.

“I’d rather be slow and right than fast and wrong in reference to the decisions we’re going to make,” said Charlotte City Councilmember Malcolm Graham, who chairs the Jobs and Economic Development Committee.

“It’s equally important that we get this done soon. The Eastside community has waited far too long,” said Charlotte City Councilmember Dimple Ajmera.

After a 60-day window, some thought the committee would decide on the four proposals, but the list was simply narrowed down to two.

The city is recommending the Racquet Sports Entertainment District and the newly proposed QC East @ Eastland project.

The Racquet Sports Entertainment District would cost $32.3 million with $4 million in private investments and $28.3 million in public investments.

The district would include a 67-racquet court facility covering 23.7 acres. The proposal would have a 5-year economic impact of $100 million, with an economic impact of $19 million in the first year.

The proposal states it would have a variety of amateur sports events for all ages and skill levels with 111 events per year, driving 13,000 visitors to the area annually.

It would take eight to 10 months for the design and 12 to 18 months for construction to be complete.

The QC East @ Eastland Yards would cost $61 million for phase one, with $31 million in private investments and $30 million in public investments. Phase two of the project would cost $22 million.

QC East would include six multi-sport athletic fields, an entertainment district with an outdoor amphitheater holding up to 5,000 people, and an indoor/outdoor venue known as the hub that could hold up to 2,500 people.

The proposal states it would have an annual economic impact of $111 million with 102,380 room nights per year, and 352,050 annual visitors.

It would take 38 months for phase one to be complete, and phase two is expected to complete between 2028 and 2030.

The city is also eyeing a potential concept as a community asset and sports tourism venue. The publicly funded facility would drive room night demand and support community needs.

“I wish there was a recommendation today, I wish that we had enough details to feel comfortable enough as a body to make a recommendation today, but I personally even as a district rep don’t feel comfortable with any recommendations on the table,” Charlotte City Councilmember Marjorie Molina said.

“The worst-case scenario is for us to move forward with a project that never gets off the ground. That would be in no one’s best interest,” Graham added.

The city plans to continue vetting the current proposals over the next three months, along with engaging with the community in east Charlotte.

“We have committed to investments today and we will continue to stay committed to making investments on this site in order to get the right proposal that is right for the community as a whole,” Tracy Dodson, assistant city manager for Charlotte, said.

Despite a narrowed list of proposals, concerned community members still didn’t get a definitive deadline for choosing a proposal.

“That is extremely frustrating. Certainly there are concerns about wanting to get it right; we have worked very closely with all entities at the table for the past two, three, four months and shared those concerns with council, and it is very upsetting a motion was not made to move forward with a specific entity,” said Greg Asciutto, who chairs the board of directors for CharlotteEAST.

“I beg of the people that I serve to give us a little bit more time to have some responsible conversations on what we can bring to east Charlotte,” Molina added.

The Jobs and Economic Development Committee will give a full report to the city council on May 8 on their recommendations.

City leaders say there’s no deadline to decide on a proposal and they have some time before it would hinder construction on Eastland Yards.

During the committee meeting, Dodson agreed to develop a scope for the next three to four months as the city looks to move forward.