CHARLOTTE — It’s the start of a new age for the old Eastland Mall site.
On Wednesday, the City of Charlotte broke ground on a new development. It’s a big change for people living near the 80-acre area just off of Central Avenue in east Charlotte.
“Although there is still work to be done, I have a message for any doubters out there: The sun always rises in the east,” Councilman Matt Newton said.
The first step is it level all of the land and do the necessary infrastructure improvements.
Earlier in the week, preparations were already underway for the mixed-use development groundbreaking.
Developer Crosland Southeast plans to build apartments, townhomes, stores and even a health clinic.
The groundbreaking marks a new era since the mall’s heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.
The City of Charlotte bought the property in 2012, but it sat vacant for more than a decade. Local vendors took over the parking lot to sell goods. Two schools were opened at the site -- a language academy and a Movement School. At one point, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper had plans to build soccer fields there but last month, his company rescinded its offer.
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Now, plans for the site include retail space, a health clinic, 250 apartments, affordable housing for seniors and restaurants. The 20 acres once promised to Tepper could become an outdoor space.
East Charlotte residents have seen plans come and go over the past several years, but city leaders are hopeful this time around that something sticks.
The developer said three parties have expressed interest in bringing recreational uses to the site. The hope is this project will be a catalyst for east Charlotte, bringing jobs and a destination for the east side.
“We are looking at concepts that will still hold true to that, that would serve the community and perhaps a larger part of Charlotte as well,” said Assistant City Manager Tracy Dodson.
“We are going to bring a partner who is going to fulfill that vision that we had laid out with community,” said Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera.
“It’s been a long, hard slog through the mud -- but we’re going to come out on top,” said Mimi Davis, president of the East Coalition of Neighborhoods.
The developer is still talking to Atrium Health and several different grocers about building on the site.
The project also has a new name and logo -- Eastland Yards. The logo is also a nod to the iconic Eastland Mall logo that marked the property for decades.
In all, the project is expected to take about five years to complete.
(WATCH BELOW: After blowback, city says it will help displaced Eastland vendors and skaters)
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