Development

After decades of shows, Metrolina Tradeshow Expo to close at the end of June

Marc Bleasdale of Charlotte rummages through a dozen cardboard boxes looking for whatever he can find for $5 on Friday, June 4, 2004. Vendor Joel Chapman sells it at $1 an item or $5 for whatever you can fit in a plastic shopping bag at Charlotte Antique & Collectibles Show at the Metrolina Expo.
Marc Bleasdale of Charlotte rummages through a dozen cardboard boxes looking for whatever he can find for $5 on Friday, June 4, 2004. Vendor Joel Chapman sells it at $1 an item or $5 for whatever you can fit in a plastic shopping bag at Charlotte Antique & Collectibles Show at the Metrolina Expo.

The Metrolina Tradeshow Expo grounds, for decades a site of gun shows, antique sales, auctions and fairs, is set to close at the end of June.

Owner Linda Pistone said the property is under contract to be sold, though she said she couldn’t say who the buyer is or what their plans are yet. The site totals 94 acres, near the intersection of Statesville and Old Statesville roads north of uptown.

“I grew up with it, and I’ve run it for 32 years,” said Pistone. Her father owned and ran the expo grounds for more than two decades before she took over. “It’s time to move on to the next thing.”

Charlotteans have flocked to the site for more than 50 years to browse tables of antiques, buy guns and knives, listen to rock and country concerts, swing on fair rides and rummage through vintage clothing. Events held there in recent years have ranged from the Queen City Fair to a dog festival, coin collector shows to mud volleyball tournaments, Carnaval Carolina for the Hispanic community to mass home foreclosure auctions.

In a letter sent to merchants Tuesday with the subject “Bittersweet,” Pistone said there will be one final show at the fairgrounds June 2-5, called June Jubilee. Merchants have until June 20 to remove their wares, and the property will close for good June 30.

Pistone said she expects the sale to close by late March. A rezoning request under consideration by Charlotte City Council would change the use of the land to one of the city’s industrial zoning designations, but doesn’t offer any details about proposed plans for the site. The proposed zoning would allow light manufacturing, distribution, offices, retail and other nonresidential uses. The request was filed by Pistone and the adjoining self-storage center late last year.

The surrounding land is mostly used for industrial, warehouse and distribution businesses.

In 2009, an investment group planned to revitalize the adjoining racetrack and turn it into the centerpiece of a $50 million amateur sports and tourism destination called the Metrolina Speed and Sport Center. The plan was to build a racing facility for go-karts and late-model stock cars, a skateboard park, restaurant space, a hotel, offices and a conference center. Those plans haven’t come to fruition, however.

The old Metrolina Speedway is a piece of racing history, where Dale Earnhardt Sr. won his first race on asphalt. In the 1960s, the track operated as Speedworld, which featured a half-mile of banked clay where races mostly ran Friday nights. In the 1970s, the track was briefly paved to run NASCAR-sponsored races promoted by retired driver Ned Jarrett.

Mecklenburg County real estate records show Speedway Investment Group, which had planned to revitalize the track, acquired 40 acres where the speedway is located from the Metrolina Tradeshow Expo in September 2009. The company spent $10.7 million.

But six months later, in March 2010, Speedway Investment Group sold the land to KSS Charlotte LLC, a firm affiliated with Barlyk and Nuriyah Mendygaziyev, for just under $6.4 million in a foreclosure sale. Nuriyah Mendygaziyev could not immediately be reached Wednesday to see if there are any active plans for the site.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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