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Posted: 4:16 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 2013
By Scott Wickersham
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Shaquanda Swan has fond memories of Eastland Mall. "This was our mall. Everyone was in in here," Swan said. Engineers for Studio Charlotte, a group looking at developing the land, don't like what they see. "They have a lot of skepticism on the integrity of the buildings and the materials used to construct the buildings," said Bert Hesse with Studio Charlotte Development. Maintaining the building is costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. "It's just a matter of time. When a building is sitting there not being used, eventually something goes wrong," said Peter Zeiler with Neighborhood and Business Services. Charlotte's economic development committee voted to tear it down Thursday. A contractor offered a low bid of $900,000 to do it as long as they get the right to sell off the scrap material. The money will come from funds set aside for the mall in 2010, which has $2.3 million left. "This is a positive thing for this whole community," said Councilman John Autry The mall is in Autry's district. He fought to save it but in the end calls this the best plan. "It sends a signal to the community. The city is taking the resources and using it to take care of that blight," Autry said. The buildings will be gone, but the parking lots will remain. The city hopes to provide an open canvas to paint a new chapter for east Charlotte. Michael Fig agrees. He is looking for construction work and sees jobs and opportunity down the road. "If they tear it down, I'll be one of the guys with a sledgehammer," Fig said.
Autry wants to use the large sunshine logos above the mall entrances in some sort of public art for the land in memory of the mall.
The decision to demolish still have to be approved by full city council, but six of the 11 members were in the committee meeting and none opposed tearing down the mall.
Demolition could begin in the late summer.
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