Decision on Eastland site delayed again
The saga seems like it will never end. I'm talking about what to do with the site of the old Eastland mall, which closed more than a decade ago. Charlotte City Council this week had been scheduled to vote on what would be built on the last 30 acres. The choice came down to an e-sports venue with event space and some athletic fields, or an indoor amateur sports complex and a hotel. But council voted instead to postpone their decision for 45 days. For more, we turn now to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter for our segment BizWorthy.
Marshall Terry: OK, so after years of planning, Tony, why did they punt on this now?
Tony Mecia: Well, why not? They've punted on a lot of things as it relates to Eastland over the years, Marshall. The actual truth is they were expected to vote on this on Monday, between these two proposals like you outlined. But what happened was that as they were headed into the vote, the council was very split. There was a lot of vote counting and horsetrading over the weekend, and what they decided to do was — rather than choose one or the other on a narrow vote, why not see if the two sides can kind of work together and meld something together that would be acceptable to everyone. So that's what they're going to do over the next 45 days. See if they can maybe work something out that has the support of both the neighborhoods, city staff and the full council.
Terry: So what's the over-under that in a month and a half or so when they take this back up they'll actually make a decision?
Mecia: Well, that's kind of a key question when it comes to Eastland I think it's probably fair not to believe that anything is going to be built there until you actually see it coming out of the ground.
Terry: All right, then. Well, let's move over to another saga now. A long-vacant and somewhat infamous property in South Charlotte is back in the news. Tony, why does the so-called Dee Dee Harris pit or hole have the reputation it does? And what might happen now?
Mecia: A lot of people in that area, Marshall really have been curious as to why nothing has been built there. This is an area we're talking about, Park Road at Glen Eagles Road near Quail Hollow Club, pretty prominent parcel, 19 acres. There have been proposals in the past to build things there like nice hotels, Saks Fifth Avenue. But nothing has ever happened there. You know, financing fell through, or plans didn't come together. But this week the local real estate company First & Early Partners posted a video on LinkedIn that showed it being marketed. They said this is an ideal place to build something, sort of trying to appeal to developers. That was incidentally first reported by the Charlotte Business Journal. So we don't really know what's going to go in there or when, but certainly a lot of interest in that parcel in south Charlotte.
Terry: OK, so I want to end this week on a very gripping headline from The Ledger: ‘Uptown residents want the public pooping to stop.’ When I saw this, I was really hoping we were talking about dogs, Tony.
Mecia: Marshall, it is sort of an ongoing debate. You, you know, the never-ending question you see on Nextdoor (app) on whether it's appropriate to put your bag of dog poop in someone else's trash can. That's a big debate online. But no, this is actually something different. We're talking about human excrement. There's a group of residents uptown "Friends of Fourth Ward." It asked the City Council this week to please reinstate criminal penalties for public urination and defecation, as well as criminal penalties for open containers of beer and wine. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, the criminal penalties for those disappeared almost a couple of years ago. The state legislature had changed the law and had asked municipalities to revisit their local ordinances and to reaffirm whether they wanted criminal penalties on their ordinances.
The city of Charlotte did that for a number of ordinances, but not for public urination and defecation and open containers. So even though those laws were sort of rarely used, these residents in Fourth Ward say by not giving police that power to enforce the law like that it's leading to an increase in vagrancy and harassment and human waste on sidewalks and public parks. And they say that's degrading their quality of life.
Terry: Now, Charlotte isn't the only city dealing with these issues in its downtown post-pandemic, right, Tony?
Mecia: That's right, Marshall. You know, coming out of the pandemic, we've seen a lot of cities struggle to deal with the homeless population. You think of San Francisco, Los Angeles? Charlotte, I think is not approaching that level. But you know, the movement is toward how do you get help for the homeless population? How do you steer them into the services they need rather than just sort of a, you know, crackdown, (like) let's arrest them. But it sounds like some residents uptown are wanting to give police a little bit more power to kind of move folks along so they can enjoy the public parks and sidewalks and get around uptown.
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