CHARLOTTE — Open-air market vendors forced out of the old Eastland Mall site told Channel 9 on Tuesday they still do not have a place to work. Less than 24 hours later, the reopening of the open air flea market was announced.
The City of Charlotte forced the vendors to leave the Eastland site on Central Avenue and promised to help them find a new location. Dozens of people called on the city council to help them find a new place to set up.
On Wednesday, a news conference was announced to reveal the reopening of the flea market.
Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari, alongside other Republicans running for city council, said that a lot near First Ward Park has been temporarily donated to help give vendors a chance to make some money.
“We, as the Republican slate made a commitment,” Bokhari said in the pouring rain. “Within 60 days, we were going to jump into action, and find the solution to this.”
Channel 9 asked him if that solution was motivated by gaining votes in the election later this month.
“The silver lining is if that case is made by us solving an actual problem,” Bokhari said. “That the citizens of Charlotte have been pleading with their government to solve for seven months. And we do it in 48 hours. I’d say we killed two birds with one stone.”
The market will be in a parking lot along Seventh Street between Brevard and Caldwell streets.
“While this isn’t the permanent solution, the commitment right now is they told us they needed money. They haven’t been able to make money, so we brought them a solution starting this Saturday,” Bokhari said.
The market will be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Unlike the other flea market, vendors must pay a fee for their stalls. Saturday’s fee will be waived.
VENDORS: CLICK here to register.
Doors for vendors open at 7 a.m. and stalls are allocated on a first-come, first serve basis.
The Republican Slate is working with the Camino Center, a multi-cultural, nonprofit organization, that specializes in organizing such an event.
However, Paola Garcia with the center said there’s been just one problem, which is communicating with the Latino community about this latest development for the market.
“The No. 1 way that people are going to know this is happening is you guys, the media,” Garcia said at the news conference. “We’re really relying on your guys to help us spread the word.”
Vendors ask city for help after being losing Central Avenue location
Vendors like Jorge Castaneda said he doesn’t have weeks to wait for a solution. He told the City Council on Monday that he’s behind on his bills because he hasn’t been able to sell his merchandise and goods.
“I am late on payments on my credit cards,” he said Monday night. “And if this situation keeps going the same way, I am not going to be able to pay my truck payment. I’m going to lose it and I use it for my business.”
He told Channel 9, the city hasn’t kept its promise.
The city told vendors in February that they needed to clear the lot for development that would happen soon. However, Channel 9′s cameras found the parking lot basically untouched.
On Tuesday, the City of Charlotte said they planned to break ground on the site sometime this summer.
Norma Almada told city leaders her mother’s been out of work for months.
“Me and my mom aren’t asking for much, but for the opportunity to work,” Almada said.
“The city remains committed to working with the open-air market vendors to find a suitable site and we will continue to do so,” a city spokesman said in a statement. “We are open to working with anyone in the community who can help find a solution.”
(WATCH BELOW: Vendors want to keep open-air market at former Eastland Mall site)
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