Charlotte is one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation, and the rapid population surge has brought noticeable changes to the city landscape. The resulting development boom has spawned a seemingly endless stream of new luxury apartments, hip breweries, upscale restaurants and trendy retail stores.
There is a pocket, however, just a few miles east of uptown that has remained largely untouched. This series of photo essays captures a few of these abandoned places.
Eastland Mall, Central Avenue
Step onto the now-empty lot on Central Avenue that was once Eastland Mall, and you’ll feel like you arrived at a movie set for a post-apocalyptic film, or that you witnessed the lyrics of the Talking Heads’ song “Nothing But Flowers” come to life.
Be it the waist-high weeds defiantly sprouting through concrete cracks, the haphazard murals of amateur graffiti coating the outer walls, the eerie grocery-store-turned-charter-school that shut down after five months last year, or the old TV graveyard in the northeast corner parking lot, it’s hard to fathom that this 80-acre wasteland was once one of Charlotte’s busiest and most-beloved shopping malls.
It opened in 1975. It had an ice rink in the middle of it. If you grew up in Charlotte, you probably spent some part of your youth there, until it closed in 2010.
The city purchased the property in 2012 and has floated multiple redevelopment ideas since then, though many of those plans have fallen through.
The city recently reached a deal with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to sell 11.4 acres for a K-8 language immersion school. Some residents don’t like that plan, though. They want whatever comes next to be an economic catalyst for east Charlotte.
Until that happens, it’s just an empty lot.
Photos: Sara Kay Mooney (now); Charlotte Observer file (then)