Politics & Government

Charlotte looks to yet another consultant for Eastland

The city’s vision for the Eastland Mall site would have apartments, stores and offices and green space.
The city’s vision for the Eastland Mall site would have apartments, stores and offices and green space. City of Charlotte

The city of Charlotte is planning to hire another consultant to try to solve the riddle of how to redevelop the Eastland Mall site.

The City Council is scheduled to hear a presentation Monday on the city’s next steps for the property, which the city bought in 2012.

The city also will show the Latin American Economic Development Corporation’s vision for the site. That group recently hired Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena to sketch his idea for Eastland.

The city didn’t hire Aravena but has agreed to share his work with council members Monday.

“He came up with a concept that was very similar to what we had developed,” said Pat Mumford, with the city’s Neighborhood and Business Services department, who has been leading efforts to transform Eastland. “It validated what the community said was important.”

Aravena’s sketch of the site shows a large park and ball fields close to Central Avenue, and some new buildings to the back of Eastland. The city’s current vision for the site has the same amount of green space, except it’s dispersed throughout the Eastland site into smaller pieces.

The city has made some progress on Eastland, though some aren’t happy about it. Council members voted 8-2 to sell 11.4 acres of the site to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which plans to build a K-8 language immersion school on the northeast corner of the property.

The sale price was $650,000. But the city agreed to return that money to CMS, which will use it to build a road and get the site ready for construction.

Some neighbors believe a school won’t be an economic catalyst for the rest of the site.

For the city, the remaining question is: What to do with the other 70 acres?

Over the past decade, the city and private developers have proposed Eastland become a mixed-use development; an Hispanic-themed shopping center; a movie studio; a recreation area with an outdoor ski slope; and now a combination of stores, apartments and offices again.

In 2007, the city hired Urban Land Institute to study the site. In 2014, the city hired LandDesign to review the site. The city now wants to hire “a mulch-disciplinary consulting team that will assist staff in creating an implementation strategy.”

The biggest hurdle is that developers aren’t interested in the site, as of now. The city hopes once the school is open, other projects might follow.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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