by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Another study is coming about what to do with the old Eastland Mall property.
The mall shut down and was foreclosed on then the 80-acre site was bought by the City of Charlotte.
City staff told the City Council's Economic Development Committee Thursday it is hiring a consultant to look once again at how best to market the site.
It is the same consultant the city paid $100,000 for a similar study six years ago.
"The concern about another study, when you use that sentence, sends off warning flags to everyone in the community as to, Well, haven't we studied this enough already?'" said City Councilman John Autry.
Other Council members also expressed skepticism for yet another study of a problem that's been studied for years.
"The community is done," said Councilman Al Austin. "We have studied this to death and now we're getting ready to study it again.”
City staffers, however, said the study is necessary.
Pat Mumford, who heads the Neighborhood and Business Services Department, said information gathered in previous studies will be used.
"We're not starting from scratch. This isn't a study for the sake of a study," Mumford said.
The realities of the economy now are far different than they were when the earlier studies were done, Mumford said.
He said the consultant will compile previous data, add new information from interviews with neighbors and developers and present a new “conceptual master plan” for the Eastland Mall site.
The city said by the end of the year it hopes to present new findings to city leaders that will indicate where public investment from the city, county and private developers might take place and also break the 80-acre site into smaller, more manageable pieces that will attract new investment.
"What pieces and parts can be developed in today's economy? What really can get financing?” Mumford said.
Still, the idea of a longer wait for action on a site that is universally thought of as a key to revitalizing East Charlotte is frustrating to many residents.
Louise Barden said she appreciates the city of Charlotte not "forgetting about" the East Side but remains disappointed that a new study will take months to complete. "It's frustrating to see a huge hole in the ground. Start over with a new plan and wait for that plan to be developed is really frustrating."
John Autry, whose City Council District covers east Charlotte, said there will be pressure on the city to deliver real economic development with the new study.
"When it comes to that Eastland property which is such a huge eyesore for east Charlotte, there is no patience," Autry said.
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