Crosland Southeast has big plans for what used to be Eastland Mall.
A sports complex in one corner of the 70-acre site. Homes and townhomes in the back. And – on Central Avenue – a cluster of offices and restaurants.
But Crosland Managing Partner Tim Sittema said it’s been harder to get other developers interested in the east Charlotte site – as opposed to other Crosland projects like Birkdale Village in Huntersville and Waverly off Providence Road.
"The office (space) is a tougher sell at this point," Sittena said. "We have had a lot of meetings with people, trying to get jobs and offices here, and so far we have not found those lead tenants to lead something like that. "
In terms of the residential part of the redevelopment, Sittema says home builders initially didn’t buy into Crosland’s vision of more high-end single-family homes for the site.
"Virtually everyone said we are interested," he said. "So then we asked the second level question: What would you build here? And the answer from pretty much everybody wasn’t exactly what we’re looking for."
He says developers were focused on building the type of apartments that dominate Central Avenue today.
"And so the product they want to build today is a very low price point," Sittema said. "So that’s not what we wanted. So we went back to the drawing board and said they don’t get it yet."
He said Crosland has been able to convince some home builders that the site can support more expensive homes.
"The storyline here is that we want high quality architecture, we want variation in design," he said. "We want interesting streetscape and we want a variation of price points and forms so that we have a neighborhood that is very very appealing."
The city of Charlotte bought Eastland seven years ago for $13 million, and then demolished the mall.
The site has languished with little interest from developers, but the city’s real estate market has become so hot that Crosland believes the site is now valuable.
The city has said in the past that it would consider spending additional tax money to help the development, and Sittema said Crosland’s development would be a “public-private partnership.” That means some additional public money would likely be needed.
It’s possible the city could use tourism tax dollars to subsidize the sports complex proposed for the southeast corner of the site.
Some residents were concerned there would be too much affordable housing on the site – or not enough.
One man said Crosland should build an ice skating rink on the site – a tribute to the rink at the old mall.
One speaker wants more green space.
"The one thing that concerns me is the parking because in every meeting we went to, we said we wanted green space for outside concerts and to have picnics," one speaker said. "But it’s limited green space. That’s what I’m concerned about. That’s why I’m concerned about the parking. I know you said it’s expensive…but we want our green space."
Sittema said things will likely change with the Eastland plan, telling the audience Crosland is on the 10-yard-line, with 90 yards to go. He hopes that perhaps construction could begin in early 2021.