On Monday night, the team behind the Eastland mall redevelopment shared an update about the project that, in a surprising twist, will no longer include the headquarters for Charlotte’s Major League Soccer team.
In another major change, assistant city manager Tracy Dodson said the city will commit $35 million in hospitality funds to Tepper Sports & Entertainment, owner of the MLS team, Charlotte FC. The plan is to divide that between Eastland ($10 million) and Uptown ($25 million). In Uptown, that means upgrades at Bank of America Stadium, where Charlotte FC will play its home games starting in 2022, plus creation of a nearby entertainment district.
The city of Charlotte has been trying to find a way to redevelop the Eastland site for about a decade now. Local leaders had pointed to an MLS headquarters as a catalyst to spark fresh life at the east Charlotte property, idle since the mall closed in 2010.
Two years ago, the city picked Crosland Southeast as the master developer on the project. For the last several months, Crosland, the city, and Tepper Sports have engaged with hundreds of residents about the redevelopment.
In describing the latest vision for the Eastland project, Dodson and city leaders say it will be a place for the whole community.
In addition to a 15,000 square-foot MLS soccer academy, the 78-acre site will include, in its first phase:
- Single-family and multi-family housing
- Retail space
- An Atrium Health facility
- A three-acre central park
“This is all about bringing the community to the site,” Dodson said.
In coming to terms on the latest Eastland updates, the city and Tepper Sports agreed on a number of community-focused details, including a “Community Benefits Agreement.” As part of that agreement, Tepper Sports will, among other commitments, create public soccer fields and donate soccer equipment and accessories to Charlotte schools in need.
City council members lauded the new proposal.
“This is so great to see we are so close to building a catalyst not just for the east side but for the whole region,” councilwoman Dimple Ajmera said.
“This development has a little bit of something for everyone,” councilman Matt Newton said.
Councilman Ed Driggs noted that one remaining question is whether there will be a tether required for the Panthers. “You have my commitment that we are partners,” Panthers COO Mark Hart said.
What’s unclear is where exactly the MLS headquarters will go. It could be in Rock Hill, where the Panthers are establishing a new headquarters and practice facility. It could be Uptown, near Bank of America Stadium and near where Tepper is building a new commercial district.
A Panthers representative did not respond to a request for comment.
City council will vote on the Eastland proposal on November 9.