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Charlotte Area News

Developer Says It May Tap $17.5 Million In City Money For Eastland Mall Site

Crosland Southeast has proposed building a soccer academy on part of the Eastland mall site. The academy would be run by the professional soccer team FC Barcelona.
Crosland Southeast
Crosland Southeast has proposed building a soccer academy on part of the Eastland mall site. The academy would be run by the professional soccer team FC Barcelona.

Crosland Southeast, Charlotte’s preferred developer for the Eastland Mall site, said it might try to use $17.5 million the city has set aside for an amateur sports complex to help build a soccer academy and sports facility.

Crosland’s plans for Eastland include building apartments, office space, and a hotel, as well as a 200,000 square-foot soccer facility that would be managed by the professional team FC Barcelona.

Tim Sittema, one of the managing partners with Crosland, said the firm could ask the city for all or some of the money, which could help build the academy or a different sports facility adjacent to it.

“We’d be very interested in including an amateur sports complex facility with outdoor soccer fields as well," he said. "Absolutely.”

Todd DeLong, the city of Charlotte’s redevelopment manager, said the city hasn’t committed yet to funding sports on the site, but it’s open to the idea.

“Right now we’re looking at all alternatives and all opportunities to use that amateur sports money, and we just have to test to make sure it’s the right fit for the site,” he said.

Credit Crosland Southeast
Here is Crosland Southeast's vision of what could be built at the Eastland Mall site.

However, city officials have been concerned about whether the sports facility could work.

“Inclusion of sports facility as a regional draw is questionable because of its lack of proximity of major highways and neighborhood congestion,” officials wrote in a summary of the four developer proposals earlier this year that included Crosland. “However, if programmed with the community in mind, it could be a good community asset.”

As part of an $800 million capital improvement program approved in 2013, the city has $17.5 million for an amateur sports complex that could be built somewhere in the city. The original plan was to build the facility in the parking lot shared by Ovens Auditorium and Bojangles’ Coliseum, but the city couldn’t find a developer to move the project forward.

Earlier this year, the city picked Crosland Southeast and the architecture firm Odell over three other developers to remake the 69-acre Eastland site, even though Crosland has given the city few details about how much public money it would need.

Another developer said it would need more than $50 million in public money for its project, estimated to cost $543 million.

Crosland did offer to buy the Eastland land from the city for $4 million, which the city has not yet agreed to. The city spent $13.2 million for the mall site six years ago.

“It’s premature at this point to try and estimate what this will cost until we have a much better idea of what we can develop there," Sittema said. "It’s not uncommon for a development like this to be in the hundreds of millions. But we have a lot of work to do.”

Crosland Southeast was the main developer for Waverly, a 90-acre mixed-use project in south Charlotte off Providence Road.

Delong said Crosland will give the city more financial information in six to eight months.

Last month, the city council voted to spend $250,000 on "pre-development" work, such as inspecting the site and studying stormwater issues. Crosland is also spending $250,000.