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City Council approves $30M for new Eastland plan without amphitheater

RIP EAST graffiti at the former Eastland Mall site on Central Avenue, in the Central/Albemarle Corridor of Opportunity.
Kayla Young
RIP EAST graffiti at the former Eastland Mall site on Central Avenue, in the Central/Albemarle Corridor of Opportunity.

The Charlotte City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve a new development proposal for nearly 30 acres at the old Eastland Mall site.

The vote marks a milestone for Eastland, which the city bought more than a decade ago, after it slid into financial distress and anchor stores closed, and then demolished in 2013.

Crosland Southeast is developing most of the total 80-acre site with apartments, homes, offices and shops — but there is a piece of land remaining on the east side of the property. That’s meant to be an economic catalyst for the area.

Some of the projects considered were an indoor swimming pool; a tennis complex; an indoor amateur sports complex and an e-sports hub.

A little more than a month ago, city of Charlotte staff asked the two remaining developers with proposals on the table to merge their proposals for Eastland.

The new plan has a 120,000-square-foot indoor amateur sports complex that will also have an ice skating rink. That building can also be used for an e-sports center.

There also will be outdoor sports fields and space for small festivals.

Council members voted to spend $30 million on the project, though city staff said more public money could be needed in the future.

That raised concerns among some council members, including LaWana Mayfield.

“If you are the group that can financially make this happen, there should not be an additional conversation later of any additional funds,” she said. “Because we have a lot of other projects and needs in our city.”

And at-large council member Dimple Ajmera wants the project to be built sooner than three years.

The Charlotte City Council Monday voted to delay by 45 days a decision on whether to build an e-sports center or an indoor amateur sports complex at Eastland.

“I know the eastside has been waiting for this catalyst for far too long,” she said. “I would like to see if we can figure out maybe a little sooner time frame.”

The new plan does not have a 5,000-seat amphitheater, which some residents objected to because of noise. There also is no plan to build a hotel, as of now.

The city said it doesn’t know how the two developers will fit together. Southern Entertainment was the backer of the e-sports hub and the amphitheater; Eastland Yards Indoor Sports is the development team behind the indoor amateur sports complex.

The city said it will bring more information to council members by the end of the year.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.