Actress and Charlotte resident Angie Harmon lobbied the Charlotte City Council on Thursday to support a proposal to redevelop the Eastland Mall site into movie studios.
Harmon said she is now a board member of Studio Charlotte Development, a group led by local movie executive Bert Hesse that seeks to remake Eastland.
“I can bring insight into the business,” said Harmon, who has been a TV and film star for nearly 20 years. “I begged (Studio Charlotte) them to let me be a part of it.”
Harmon, best known for her role in “Law & Order,” spoke to a handful of council members at an economic development committee meeting. The meeting was designed to give council members an update on several projects, including Eastland.
Studio Charlotte Development has asked the city for the 80-acre Eastland site for free as well as city and county incentives worth $24.7 million. The incentives and the land would be worth about $38 million.
Under the proposal, the city and county would give Studio Charlotte Development property tax rebates for a 10-year period based on new tax revenue the project would generate. One problem, however, is that the developer needs more money for upfront costs than the project will initially generate in tax revenue.
“Even with county participation in the tax increment grant ... (it) appears to be insufficient to cover required infrastructure costs,” a city memo said.
Another hurdle is in Raleigh. The state currently has a generous 25 percent tax credit for TV and film productions, but it’s unclear if the General Assembly will vote to continue the incentives.
The city’s economic development director, Brad Richardson, said Thursday that the city is still working with the group, trying to get more details on its financing and needs.
“They have not refined their construction costs so we can’t do any due diligence,” Richardson said.
The committee is expected to hear more about the project in February.
Harmon said she is friends with Barbara McKay, the senior vice president for Studio Development Charlotte and a local television host. Harmon, who said she has lived in Charlotte for four years, said one benefit to the project would be the ability for NASCAR drivers to film commercials and other work locally rather than having to travel.
McKay said the project would generate “jobs, jobs, jobs” for the area.
Council member Vi Lyles said after the meeting she enjoyed meeting Harmon. But she said Harmon’s support of the project doesn’t necessarily mean she is more likely to support the project.
The city bought the mall for $13.2 million in 2012.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less