• City and potential investors have different plans for Eastland Mall land


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Investors are preparing proposals to purchase the land that used to be Eastland Mall and turn into a film-studio. Meanwhile, the city of Charlotte is doing its own research to determine what portion of its newly acquired land should be devoted to movie-making.

    While the city is still comparing various film studio park models all over the world, at least one investor has already gotten the impression that Charlotte isn't entirely ready to commit to a full-scale film operation.

    "You either want to be in the film business or you don't," said Bert Hesse, of Central Avenue Studios.

    Hesse is one of at least half a dozen people who have expressed interest in buying the old mall and turning it into a major film studio. Hesse's vision is not only the grandest of all known proposals, it might also require a larger chunk of land than what the city is willing to sell.

    "Our board of directors and investors are not really interested in partial use of that property or mixed use, other than a film studio," said Hesse.

    At a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce this week, Central Avenue Studios was told that it, or any film studio, might be allotted only 10 of the 80 acres the city owns.

    One scenario has the city selling the rest of the property to developers who would build a mixed use center featuring anything and everything from a flower shop to a hotel on the site.

    Hesse said that wouldn't work for Central Avenue Studios because not only does his plan call for several sound stages, it will also require a lot of movie industry related office space and a film school, which would develop a partnership with several Charlotte-area colleges and CMS.

    Councilman John Autry told us it was premature to rule any proposal out because the city's planning board has not completed its research and a request for proposals hasn't been put out yet.

    Central Avenue Studios plans on explaining and selling its vision at meeting with the public beginning Thursday night at Hickory Grove Recreation Center. Hesse will present his plan at an East Charlotte Community Meeting there, 6709 Pence Road, between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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