Eastland Mall (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Eastland Mall logo/entrance
|Location||[5471 Central Ave, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States|
|Closing date||June 30, 2010
(demolished beginning October 1, 2013)
City of Charlotte
|No. of stores and services||0|
|No. of anchor tenants||0|
|Total retail floor area||1,031,746 million square feet
|No. of floors||3|
Eastland Mall was a shopping mall in Charlotte, North Carolina. The center opened in 1975 as the then-largest mall in North Carolina with three anchor department stores, Belk, J.C. Penney and Ivey's, and a Sears store joined four years later. Burlington Coat Factory, the mall's final anchor, has closed, leaving all anchors vacant. The mall was owned by Glimcher Realty Trust and the City of Charlotte. Glimcher requested the mall be put into receivership due to heavy debt, and there were reports of the mall entering foreclosure. LNR sold the interior space in the mall to Boxer Properties of Houston for $2 million. It ceased operations as of June 30, 2010, and was purchased by the city of Charlotte from Boxer Properties, and the owners of the vacant anchors in hopes of selling it to a developer.
After its takeover, the mall was maintained by the city of Charlotte. By a 10-1 vote on May 28, 2013, the Charlotte city council formally voted to demolish the mall for $871,520, as possible developers stated they had no use for the building. A large percentage of materials will likely be recycled or preserved, including the mall's four entrance signs which will become part of a public art exhibit. Demolition began on October 1, 2013.
A thriving mall: 1975-1990s
Development began on a shopping center in east Charlotte in the early 1970s after seeing the success of SouthPark Mall about six miles (10 km) away. Henry Faison, the developer, recalls planning the mall with a team of only six people. In 1975, Eastland Mall opened to much fanfare as the biggest mall in North Carolina at that time. Eastland Mall had an ice skating rink and the first food court in North Carolina. Additionally, the mall included an outparcel convenience center with a Harris Teeter grocery store. Miller & Rhoads had a small specialty store at the mall, which was closed in 1986. In the early 1990s, Ivey's became Dillard's and the store expanded, and the mall's interior was renovated and updated as well.
By the late 1990s, Eastland Mall's image and physical appearance began to degrade. Adding to the retail shift in Charlotte, demographic changes to the surrounding areas have changed the retail makeup of the mall. Crime rates also increased around the mall. In late 2005 there was a shooting inside the mall near the Gourmet Gardens food court and also a shooting outside in the parking lot. Another shooting took place in 2006 near the food court. A bullet smashed one of the glass doors and one person was shot.
Mall and city officials cited "a perception of crime" that scared patrons away as opposed to actual crime happening every day.
The first original anchor store to depart the mall was J.C. Penney, which left in 2002, a few years after becoming a J.C. Penney Outlet store. In 2004, the anchor space was split up and a Burlington Coat Factory store took the upper level, while the bottom space was subdivided between a Fred's discount store and Prime Time store. Dillard's closed off one level of their store in 2005, and operated a Dillard's Outlet on the other level.
The Harris Teeter store on the periphery closed on June 26, 2006, after being in operation since 1975. The store cited underperformance as the cause for its closure; however, changing demographics and lack of investment in remodeling may have contributed to this store's demise.
Belk closed in 2007, becoming the third anchor to leave the mall. Following Belk's departure, Limited Brands closed all five of their stores inside the mall, which included Bath & Body Works, The Limited and Victoria's Secret. Fred's and Prime Time closed as well, followed by the Dillard's Outlet and movie theater in late 2008.
One day after the announcement of Belk's departure, Eastland Mall officials announced the original movie theater showing first-run films would reopen after closing in 1996. It had reopened in the last few years but was only specializing in foreign language films and 'G' and 'PG' rated films.
On March 8, 2007, the Urban Land Institute Advisory Council shared its recommendations: to tear the mall down and make it into a vibrant community center with mixed-use shopping and an amusement park.
The City of Charlotte had acquired an option to buy the vacant Dillard's anchor space, and rumors alleged that Glimcher would walk away from the portion of the mall that it controlled rather than pay an upcoming mortgage payment on the Eastland $42 million mortgage.
In an earnings press release dated July 23, 2008, Glimcher Realty Trust announced that it "will not fund any further cash deficits at the property." The company also requested court-appointed receivership and liquidation for the property.
In February 2009, the former Ice House ice skating rink, which had been closed the previous year, was replaced with a soccer field. For a mall that had received a brunt of negativity, this is one major positive for Eastland. Like the rest of the mall, however, the soccer field closed.
However, these retail changes were accompanied by a degradation of the mall's physical appearance, which had deteriorated to the point that its owner, Glimcher Realty Trust, labeled the mall a "fixer-upper". The mall's deterioration was mirrored in its surrounding area, labeled "corridors of crap" by Charlotte's then-mayor Pat McCrory due to its inexpensive and aging retail structures.
On February 26, 2009 Sears Holdings Corporation announced that the Sears store at Eastland would close on May 31, another major blow to the beleaguered mall. This left the city of Charlotte without a Sears store inside its city limits, though there is one at Carolina Place Mall in Pineville, a town bordered by Charlotte on three sides.
On February 27, 2010, Burlington Coat Factory, the mall's sole remaining anchor, announced that it would be departing the struggling mall on March 20 due to "ownership questions, lack of customer traffic, and weak sales." 
In October, 2009 Renovatus, a Christian church took up residence in the mall's long shuttered theater. Renovatus, which calls itself "A Church for people under renovation", hoped to help reverse the decline in fortunes of the mall and its surrounding area, and clear Eastland of the violent, dangerous stigma that surrounds it. However, with the mall's closure, the church vacated its space.
The church has since merged with an existing congregation, Central at Little Rock Church of God. The united congregation, called Renovatus church, has permanently moved to 1209 Little Rock Rd. Charlotte, North Carolina and also holds weekly services in the former PTL Television Network studios at the old Heritage USA complex in Fort Mill, South Carolina.
Ownership by Boxer Properties
In September 2009, the mall's owner said that if the city of Charlotte did not purchase the mall, it would be shuttered. The council decided against that on November 2006. While as of February 2010, the mall stated it was still leasing space and did not plan to close, on April 16, 2010, the remaining tenants were given notice to vacate by June 30, 2010 because of a foreclosure action filed against the mall. According to letters sent to tenants "it is understood that the lender or any other party that acquires title to Eastland Mall at foreclosure will close the mall."
On June 28, 2010, ownership of the inner stores, parking lot and a few of the smaller outside buildings surrounding Eastland Mall were transferred to Boxer Properties according to a deed filed in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on that date. The fate of the anchor stores, however, were left hanging in the balance. Boxer was expected to bring in retail and small-office tenants that fit with the diverse nature of Charlotte's east side, similar to the company's redevelopment of La Gran Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas. The mall was planned to reopen by Christmas 2011;  however, nothing ever came out of it.
On August 31, 2012, the city of Charlotte purchased the entire mall, as well as some of the outlying properties, for $13.2 million. The city hopes to sell the property, or lease it, to a developer that will redevelop the site. At the time of the sale, they received interest from multiple studios to transform the site into a film studio. The city also hopes to utilize some of the property for mixed-uses, like for hotels and specialty shops. A studio known as Central Avenue Studios, would like to purchase the entire property for film uses, and as use as a film school, in conjunction with local education institutes like Central Piedmont Community College, Queens University of Charlotte, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
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