Mecklenburg approves tax breaks for Eastland and Tepper Sports

County leaders will spend just over $ 7 million on public improvements to the former Eastland Mall redevelopment project, a vibrant cultural hub anchored in the Charlotte FC Elite Academy headquarters in east Charlotte.

Mecklenburg County Commissioners on Wednesday passed a resolution approving infrastructure support, with the city expected to contribute around $ 4 million to the interlocal deal. Charlotte is separately committing more than $ 17 million in infrastructure investments in Eastland.

County manager Dena Diorio has yet to execute a formal contract, which would clarify public use of football fields and small business support programs in Eastland. Mecklenburg also wants to have the possibility of maintaining football fields, green spaces or a park in perpetuity, if the city or Tepper Sports & Entertainment terminates their land lease.

Commissioner Pat Cotham cast the only dissenting vote, due to the perpetual language.

Last year, the city signed contracts with developer Crosland Southeast and Tepper Sports & Entertainment to turn Eastland into a mixed-use development. It will include offices, retail stores and apartments with a few affordable units.

During the commissioners’ discussion, they criticized the city’s management of economic development negotiations. Elaine Powell, vice president of county commissioners, said Mecklenburg was “left out of the process” of working with Charlotte and Tepper Sports.

“Don’t just come and ask us to sign a check,” said Powell. “It’s our job to envision balanced and smart growth. “

Charlotte bought the vacant 80-acre property, once a mall with an iconic indoor ice rink, in 2012. Commissioner Vilma Leake noted that executives were talking about redeveloping the land “forever” as alternate plans, including a skiing, faltered.

Commissioner Mark Jerrell, who represents the Eastland region, thanked the residents of East Charlotte for making their voices heard. He said the Eastland project will revitalize the region.

“We also know that can’t be the end of investing in East Charlotte,” Jerrell said.

Tepper Sports representatives did not speak at the commissioners meeting.

After the vote, Mark Hart, vice president and chief operating officer of Tepper Sports, said in a statement to the Observer: “We continue to work with the City of Charlotte, County of Mecklenburg and Crosland as we go forward. as the transformation work on the Eastland Shopping Center site progresses. .

“Football is an important part of East Charlotte and we are thrilled to have a presence in the community,” said Hart.

Private public partnership

Of the city and county’s total $ 11 million infrastructure deal, $ 5.85 million is earmarked for a two-level parking lot with 300 spaces. And $ 5.15 million is for infrastructure improvements such as new road networks, sidewalks, and off-site traffic mitigation efforts.

County officials say Eastland’s development will create more than 900 jobs during peak construction next year and into 2024.

The first phase of development could be ready by the end of next year, said Tracy Dodson, deputy city manager and director of economic development.

This is a continuation of the public-private partnerships between Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Tepper Sports. Billionaire David Tepper, the NFL’s richest team owner, said in June he was counting on community support to partially fund a new stadium in the upscale Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC, the new Major League Soccer team.

Dollar numbers and most details remain unclear for the stadium, but Charlotte executives say they are interested in pursuing a long-term relationship with Tepper.

Continued collaboration, some council members told the Observer, could bring the entertainment district near the stadium – connecting upscale neighborhoods together with the Gateway District, a hub for Amtrak, buses, streetcar and streetcar – eventually .

The final “Rising Sun” signage at Eastland Mall is removed and prepared for transport to a storage facility in Concord pending future installation as public art. Courtesy of Grant Baldwin Photog

Sitemap of the East

When Charlotte joined the MLS expansion team, Eastland was billed as the home of the future team.

But in a twist caused by the coronavirus pandemic, officials canceled that part of the deal, instead locating the headquarters of the Charlotte FC Elite Academy in Eastland.

City Council members say the Eastland Shopping Center redesign will rejuvenate economic development on Charlotte’s east side. Yet community advocates are wary of gentrification along Central Avenue and the Albemarle Road Corridor, which is home to diverse immigrant and refugee communities.

The average household income around Eastland is around $ 31,000, almost half of the overall Mecklenburg average, according to census data. Black and Hispanic residents make up almost two-thirds of the population.

The Elite Academy complex will occupy 22 acres in Eastland, according to the latest development proposal. Tepper Sports plans to have two large fields for the academy, in addition to a large field for public use.

Four medium pitches and six small pitches are also planned for public use, which Tepper Sports is considering for youth and recreation leagues.

Charlotte FC and Tepper Sports say soccer fields will feature programming for around 100 days a year, meaning the public will be able to access the fields most of the time on unscheduled days.

Tepper Sports will occupy approximately 11% of the open space in Eastland.

Other open space amenities will include a nearly 3-acre park along Central Avenue, smaller pocket parks, as well as a greenway and bike path. Under the development proposal, there will also be 240,000 square feet of office space and 90,000 square feet of retail space at the Eastland site.

Of the 485 residential units outlined in the plan, there are 250 apartments serving households earning between 80% and 100% of the region’s median income, as well as 150 townhouses and single-family homes at market prices.

Another 85 units are designated as affordable seniors housing.

Bank of America Stadium

Tepper Sports and the city have already shared the $ 50 million cost of renovations to Bank of America Stadium, the Panthers’ longtime home in downtown Charlotte, to modernize it with football-specific upgrades for the first team of Charlotte FC in the immediate future.

Tepper Sports covered just over half of the $ 50 million, with the remainder coming from city council approved funding for the upgrades. These include the addition of a central football tunnel, a new home locker room and major changes to the entrance to Lowe’s East Gate.

TSE chairman Tom Glick said the organization is investing in the Bank of America stadium when asked about a new stadium last month.

“I think what’s important to note is that we have a great football stadium here,” he said. “It’s always been great for football… And this is the moment we’re in and we’re excited to fill (Bank of America Stadium) when we start.”

Charlotte FC are expected to start playing in the hall in 2022.

Alex Andrejev contributed to this story.

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Alison Kuznitz is a local government reporter for The Charlotte Observer, covering Mecklenburg City Council and the County Council of Commissioners. Since March, she has also reported on COVID-19 in North Carolina. She previously interned at the Boston Globe, Hartford Courant and Hearst Connecticut Media Group, and graduated from Penn State.
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