City rejects studio proposal at Eastland Mall site

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

The city of Charlotte killed the proposal Thursday that would have put Studio Charlotte on the 82-acre lot at the old Eastland Mall.
 
The city is talking about breaking up the mall property into smaller pieces, adding a lake down there and waiting to see what happens.

“We were lead to believe that there was going to be a substantive project there that was going to be moving forward quickly. That was not the case,” said Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes.

Studio Charlotte's Bert Hesse sat with a resigned look on his face and watched the city give up on his bold plan to redevelop the property.

With little discussion, the City Council's Economic Development Committee voted to end exclusive talks with Studio Charlotte and its plan for a $300 million complex anchored by sound stages.  

Afterward, Hesse admitted he's moving on too.

“At some point you've got to cut your losses and say, ‘You know, we tried.’ It just didn’t work.”

The city is now looking at developing a new master plan for the property subdividing the 82 acres into smaller, more workable sections and using stormwater runoff to create a lake at one end in the hopes of attracting ideas from new developers.

“We think there's opportunity out there for smaller site development and we're anxious to begin those conversations,” said Brad Richardson with the city’s economic development.

The failure to work out a deal with Hesse and Studio Charlotte puts plans to jumpstart the property back at square one but neighborhood activists like Louise Woods said they're willing to wait.
 
“We want to keep the focus on creating (a long-term) environment worthy of that excellent site,” said Woods with the Eastland Area Strategies Team.