City moves forward on park, school plan for Eastland

Charlotte is still planning to redevelop the Eastland Mall site with a K-8 language-immersion school and a park, and sell the rest of the property for apartments and retail, the city said Thursday.

A main part of the plan is to create a new street network that resembles a grid inside the 80-acre site.

The plan also calls for the streetcar to make a loop along the streets. The Eastland area would be the final stop on the eastern end of a proposed 10-mile streetcar, and the city said Thursday the Gold Line would be a catalyst for the project.

“Clearly the transit component, the streetcar component, is a big part of this,” said Pat Mumford, director of Neighborhood and Business services for the city.

One problem could be time and money. It’s unclear if the city has enough money to extend the streetcar to Eastland Mall, and, if so, how long it would take. Bringing the streetcar to Eastland could take a decade.

The city’s economic development committee discussed the Eastland project Thursday.

The city said it still needs to finalize agreements with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the county’s Parks and Recreation department. The main feature of the park would be a stormwater retention lake, but the city said it could make that an amenity for the site.

The school and park would take up most of the 80 acres. There would be about 26 acres left for private development.

The city also needs to “assess developer interest,” according to a presentation presented to City Council.

Council member Claire Fallon asked whether developers are interested in the project.

“We tested the interest and received positive comments from developers,” Mumford said.

The city bought the mall for for about $13 million in 2012. It then demolished the building.

The first plan was to remake Eastland into a movie studio, but the city pulled out of a potential partnership with developer Bert Hesse. The city’s new plan is smaller and more modest.

Council member Michael Barnes, who chairs the committee, asked whether construction could start in 18 or 24 months.

Mumford said construction on the school could start next spring and it could open in the fall of 2018. That would be the first phase of the project, he said.

“This will take years to complete,” Mumford said. “It may take a decade.”

Council member Ed Driggs asked whether the city is considering spending more money than the $13 million spent to buy the land.

Mumford said he doesn’t think the city will need to spend additional money to market and develop the site.

Harrison: 704-358-5160