The Eastland Mall redevelopment will begin without Tepper Sports and Entertainment.
Driving the news: The long-awaited project will break ground on Aug. 3, but it’ll be without TSE, which has been part of the Eastland Mall redevelopment plans since Major League Soccer awarded billionaire David Tepper a franchise in December 2019.
There are no plans for TSE to have fields for Charlotte FC at Eastland at this time, but they’re “open to discussing opportunities,” per TSE spokesperson Bruce Speight.
- “It’s not like a breakup by any means,” Tracy Dodson, assistant city manager and economic development director, told Axios. She added the city continues to engage with TSE on all things that TSE does in Charlotte and they “still look forward to a strong partnership.”
What they’re saying: “After a great deal of consideration, the timeline for the Eastland project posed challenges that led us to research expedited alternatives,” Speight told Axios in a statement. “We continue to work towards a practice facility for Charlotte FC’s first team, the club’s academy and its MLS Next Pro team and will provide updates as our plans are finalized. We continue to have discussions with the City of Charlotte as we work towards driving economic engagement through sports and live entertainment.”
- At-large Charlotte city council member Dimple Ajmera also declined to comment on the “ongoing” matter. District 5 council member Matt Newton, who represents the area, said he doesn’t have a “public comment at this time.”
State of play: The three major players in the project heading into 2022 were the city of Charlotte, Crosland Southeast and TSE.
- The city owns the land. Crosland is the master developer. TSE would oversee the development of roughly 20 acres for Charlotte FC academy fields and facilities.
- Dodson said, however, there are several other partners involved as well, including Mecklenburg County, which will contribute to the construction of a park on the site.
Tim Sittema, managing partner at Crosland Southeast, confirmed to Axios that TSE will not be part of their development plans moving forward.
- “While we are disappointed, we are not surprised with their decision and our plans are not dependent on TSA’s commitment. Although ideally a decision would have been made much sooner, we are now able to finally begin our construction phase with the clarity we have been awaiting,” Sittema said in a statement to Axios.
- Expecting TSE’s decision “at some point,” he added Crosland Southeast began marketing their portion of the site months ago. They’re already encouraged by the amount of interest in it, per Sittema. “We hope to be able to announce our updated plans very soon.”
Why it matters: This is the second significant development deal involving TSE to encounter hurdles in the past few months. TSE stopped work on the Carolina Panthers’ $800 million headquarters in Rock Hill, filed bankruptcy to end the project and is now facing lawsuits from local governments and contracted companies.
- Plus, discussions about the future of Bank of America Stadium, among the oldest stadiums in the NFL, are ongoing between the city and TSE. Tepper has indicated he’d seek public funding for it.
Of note: The city unanimously approved transferring 57.5 acres on site to Crosland on May 31, giving Crosland the power to develop their side of the project.
The big picture: If TSE’s side falls through, Sittema said there are still lots of opportunities. He declined to specify what those may be, however.
- Dodson told Axios using this part of the site for recreation that attracts not only area residents, but people from all around Charlotte, too, has long been part of the goal.
- She said that’s why they purchased additional land in 2020, taking it from just under a 70-acre site to close to a roughly 80-acre site.
What’s next: Dodson said the city wants Crosland to get started on implementing infrastructure as quickly as possible, given the Eastland project has been years in the making, and the amount of time the project will take. There will be 18 months of site work and infrastructure, including utilities and other underground work. Construction is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2023. Phase one is expected to take 36 months.
- Plans for the recreation component and TSE’s involvement may shift, but the vision for open, recreation area remains the same.
- “We’ll look at how things might shift from plans that we’ve had, but essentially the vision stays around recreation,” Dodson said.
Editor’s note: We updated this story with a new statement from Crosland Southeast.