The backer of a defunct plan to turn the old Eastland Mall site into a movie studio has struck out with a similar proposal to build and manage a movie studio on Catawba Tribal lands just south of Charlotte in York County, South Carolina.
Tribal administrator Elizabeth Harris told the Herald that the Catawbas remain open to the idea of a movie studio, if
“the right deal was presented to us.”
“We were certainly inspired by the excitement in our community around the idea of doing a movie studio,” Harris said in a statement to the Herald. “We believe that there is still great potential for a movie studio business model that makes sense for all parties involved.”
In response to a list of emailed questions from The Herald, Harris said the project had potential, but “the scope of the project and financing plan was not fully developed.”
Tribal leaders began considering the proposed studio in the summer of 2015. It would reportedly have made the Catawba Reservation home to one of the largest movie studios east of Los Angeles.
The same developer made a similar pitch three years ago in Charlotte for the 80-acre Eastland Mall site, which remains a vacant lot off Central Avenue.
Charlotte’s economic development committee decided in March 2014 not to extend a contract with Bert Hesse, in part because details remained vague on the project’s financing and what the studio would cost to build. Hesse wanted the city to deed him the 80 acres for $1, which city leaders refused to do. The city bought Eastland site in the summer of 2012 for $13.2 million.
Hesse told The Herald in 2015 that if the Catawba Nation had approved his proposed studio, construction would begin soon and take up to 10 years.