Developer, Charlotte city leaders talk MLS plans for Eastland site

Developer, Charlotte city leaders talk MLS plans for Eastland site
Tim Sittema, managing partner at Crosland Southeast, is pictured with Eastland Mall site idea boards. (Charlotte Business Journal)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One developer promised a giant ski slope. Another envisioned a 30-acre, Hollywood-style movie studio. And, to no one’s surprise, those pitches for an Eastland Mall makeover wound up on the cutting room floor.

Eventually, as the years rolled by and nothing much happened on the 80-acre former mall site, Charlotte city government scaled back its ambitions, hoping for a mix of apartments or townhomes, some locally flavored restaurants and a soccer academy of some kind. Momentum flickered to life when Crosland Southeast, a company with a proven history of successful projects, emerged as the top choice to take over the sputtering Eastland property as master developer.

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As of next Tuesday, challenges with the site are likely to become a lot more palatable. The reason: A guy worth $12 billion who already owns an NFL franchise is ready to bring his $300 million Major League Soccer team to the neighborhood.

When Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and MLS Commissioner Don Garber finally make official on Tuesday morning what many have speculated on for weeks — that Charlotte is soon to be home to the league’s 30th team — one of the biggest winners is likely to be east Charlotte. Mayor Vi Lyles, in a letter to Garber last month outlining the city’s vision for helping Tepper land a team, stated that an MLS expansion club would locate “its headquarters and practice facilities on the Eastland site just north of downtown Charlotte.”

Major League Soccer is coming, here?s what needs to happen next

On Thursday afternoon, Tim Sittema, Crosland Southeast managing partner, said he is hopeful that what CBJ first reported in October becomes a reality in the near future: An MLS headquarters will occupy 20 acres of the 69 undeveloped acres on the Eastland property.

CBJ caught up with Sittema as well as city leaders to talk about what such a project could mean for the east side. Read more here.