The future of the Eastland Mall site appears to be up in the air again. City staff have recommended against extending an exclusive contract with Studio Charlotte, the company that wants to turn the 80-acre property into film and TV studios. WFAE’s Duncan McFadyen reports.
Back in October, the city gave Studio Charlotte an exclusive, six-month window to put together a development deal for Eastland. That window closes at the end of this month. But on Wednesday, Studio Charlotte CEO Bert Hesse told the city he needs more time. Economic development director Brad Richardson says Hesse hasn’t given the city enough information for it to grant an extension.
“It was increasingly clear over the last several weeks that several critical pieces of information we needed to make that recommendation and to feel good about that partnership just weren’t going to be delivered,” he says.
That information includes things like how much construction would cost and how it would be financed. Hesse says he isn’t comfortable sharing those details.
“They want to see names, and they want to see amounts next to those names, and we’re just not willing to do that with our investor groups or our private equity group,” he explains.
He’s also asked the city to split the planning cost for some of the infrastructure. Councilwoman Vi Lyles, vice chair of city council’s economic development committee, says the city isn’t necessarily opposed to helping with infrastructure, but not in this case.
“He had asked for money to do due diligence," she says, "and that’s not the role of the city right now in this deal.”
Lyles and economic development director Brad Richardson both say there could still be a place for movie studios on the property, but it’s more likely now to be part of a multi-use development.
The city has a lot riding on the Eastland Mall property. It paid $13 million for it last summer.
Richardson says the site should be cleared and ready to build on by the end of April.