A decrepit but prominent shopping center in Charlotte will be torn down and redeveloped

The Coliseum Center on Independence Boulevard.
The Coliseum Center on Independence Boulevard.

Say goodbye to one of the biggest eyesores on Independence Boulevard: A slowly crumbling retail center that’s long been mostly vacant is set for redevelopment.

The Coliseum Center, just past the Eastway Boulevard exit from Independence, will be demolished starting in July, developer Chris Bitterlin said. The 18.3-acre site is next to a Walmart Supercenter, and the $35 million new development will be called Coliseum Crossing.

“The redevelopment of the dilapidated Coliseum Center is long overdue,” said Bitterlin, president of Bitterlin Development Corp. and managing member of Manchester NC Coliseum, the partnership behind the redevelopment. “We are excited to deliver the Coliseum Crossing project to this highly visible location.”

The once-thriving strip mall, built in 1964, was formerly anchored by a Kmart, which closed in 1994. It’s on a stretch of Independence Boulevard that was hit hard by the roadway’s widening, which made it difficult for customers to access shops during construction and turned miles of the thoroughfare into a stoplight-free, high-speed freeway. City officials and neighbors have been looking at how to revitalize the corridor for more than a decade.

A site plan for the redevelopment. Courtesy Chris Bitterlin

The site will be split in two as part of the redevelopment, Bitterlin said, and connected to the adjacent Walmart. His partnership bought the site in 2016 for just over $6.1 million, property records show.

A major automotive company – whose identity hasn’t been disclosed – is under contract to buy 10 acres for a car dealership. On the other 8.3 acres, Bitterlin’s partnership will develop 60,000 square feet of retail space, which is targeting a spring to summer 2018 completion.

The sole retailer that remained at the 217,000 square-foot strip mall was Earth Angel, a store that sold dance wear, bikinis, shoes, corsets, lingerie and more, largely catering to exotic dancers in Charlotte’s adult club industry, according to a 2016 Charlotte Five story.

The old sign marking Independence Boulevard’s Coliseum Center, as seen in 1995. MICHAEL CHRITTON

Earth Angel said on its website that it closed June 10.

“After 20+ years, we have lost our lease due to redevelopment,” the post read.

It’s unclear whether the store will relocate to a new spot. Owner Paul Williams could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Josh Beaver of the Nichols Company will lease the new retail space at the Coliseum Crossing development.

“Many tenants have expressed strong interest in this location with the proposed automotive use on the west side and direct access to Walmart on the east side of the property,” said Bitterlin.

The old Dikadee's Front Porch restaurant on Independence Blvd is being torn down.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo