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East Charlotte residents gather to support studio project

Nearly 100 east Charlotte residents gathered to hear from organizers of a movie studio project that appears stalled in its effort to start building at the former Eastland Mall site.

The city has had an exclusive negotiating period with Bert Hesse’s Studio Charlotte Development, which had hoped to have the movie-making buildings finished by next year. Offices, restaurants and a film school were also in the plans.

But the city said Hesse hasn’t provided it with enough information on how his organization would finance the studio or given details about other costs the city needs to calculate any property tax rebates to help make the project more financially viable.

Economic development director Brad Richardson recommended Thursday that the City Council not grant Studio Charlotte’s request for a five-month extension on his exclusive negotiating window. The window, organizers say, would allow them to see if the N.C. General Assembly will continue a film tax credit this spring, which would help lure TV and movie production to North Carolina.

An official vote by the economic development committee on the recommendations takes place on March 20 and organizers encouraged attendees at the meeting at a restaurant off Albemarle Road to call local and state political leaders before then.

“We want this on the east side of Charlotte,” said Donna Reed, one of the organizers, who is supporting community-oriented development on the site. “Before us, they had no options, no thoughts, no nothing.

“Now is the time to let them know the answer is move forward with studio Charlotte.”

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