City sees momentum on east side

East side business leaders received encouraging news Tuesday from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg planning director.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- East side business leaders received encouraging news Tuesday from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg planning director.

We're very pleased with the momentum that's occurring, said Debra Campbell.

A part of Charlotte that s often lagged in development, Campbell said investors are now interested in east Charlotte.

There is a lot of private sector interest in doing development on this side of town.

Campbell spoke to the east chapter of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce at The Vanlandingham Estate.

Despite initial discussions of turning the Eastland Mall site into movie studios, she said the 90-acre plot of land will likely be broken into smaller pieces for development. The city may build a park or other public space on the property to initiate investment, she said.

Campbell also pointed to development that s already begun. Last week, a groundbreaking was held for Meridian Place, a massive mixed-use development at Monroe and Idlewild Roads. Preliminary plans are also in the works to convert Bojangles Coliseum into an amateur sports complex, complete with a hotel, restaurant and retail.

But business owners at Tuesday s event were most concerned about road construction on Independence Boulevard. Crews are widening the street, eliminating stop lights and building overpasses to make it into a freeway.

Small businesses are concerned in the short and long term.

With the lights being gone now, with the increase in speed, it definitely is a challenge for our customers to get in and out, said Tom Rogge, owner of Fast Signs.

Eventually, the city hopes to create access roads and side streets so that customers can reach the businesses.

Campbell encouraged the businesses to turn their backs to Independence.

Probably 'turn our back' may sound negative, but from a development perspective, fronting on a high speed thoroughfare for retail or residential is probably not the most compatible environment for it to be in, said Campbell.

At first take, it's kinda tough to hear that phrase, especially as someone who has a retail business on independence, Rogge said.

Campbell said the current construction should be completed by 2016. Rogge said he ll wait until then to make a decision about keeping his business in its current location.


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