Former shopping center on Independence now filled

by: Jim Bradley Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Less than a year after becoming another empty big-box store in Charlotte, a vacant Walmart has found new life and a new business.

A new store called Chef'Store has opened in the building in the Eastway Crossing Shopping Center.

It's taking up 30,000 square feet and has energized an area concerned about blight.

"I thought it would sit empty," said Woody Moss, a long-time shopper in the area. "When I saw them board up the windows and nothing happen for a while I thought, OK, it's gonna sit vacant for a long time."

Instead, the building remained vacant for less than a year. New paint, a new name and new promise have followed the renovations.

Chef'Store is the first retail venture by US Foods, a major food distributor in the area.

The company says it chose the space in East Charlotte because it has hundreds of restaurants within just a few miles.

The opening of Chef'Store is also a boost for East Charlotte residents who've seen their share of economic challenges in recent years.

City Councilman John Autry says he hopes other businesses will be encouraged to use existing vacant big boxes.

"The experience of US Foods should be a signal to other business that they should consider looking at some of these abandoned buildings and how they might be able to use them for their needs," Autry said.