CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Eastland Mall now belongs to the City of Charlotte. In an unanimous vote Monday night, City Council approved the $13.2 million purchase of the 81-acre property.
The audience, full of supporters, erupted into cheers as Councilman James Autry talked about his vision for the eyesore to become a television and film sound studio.
"Not just a sound stage. Not just empty boxes. It will be like a city within a city," gushed Autry.
Autry and other citizen speakers talked of film industry companies expressing interest in the Eastland Mall property, but never offered any names. Some speakers who opposed the deal said companies interested in the property should be buying it, instead of using the city as a middleman.
Council will use money from a $16 million bond referendum passed in 2008 for the purpose of fixing up the Eastland Mall property. Councilman Warren Cooksey said, while he doubted the film studio concept would be successful, he approved the deal because people have been waiting over three years for council to do something about Eastland Mall.
The deal requires the city to post $750,000 in non-refundable earnest money by July 31. The proposal presentation details a timeline that opens bidding to potential developers in late-Autumn. A developer will ideally be chosen by March 2013.
Mayor Anthony Foxx noted the deal is about more than movies or a mall. He talked about investing in all parts of the city.
"We can make parts of our city that some consider throw-a-ways--or as one former mayor called them 'Corridors of Crap'--into something worth investing and believing in again," he said.
The current $13.2 million deal breaks down as follows:
• $5.26 million to buy the interior section of the mall from Houston-based Boxer Properties, which bought that section of the mall for $2 million in 2010. Last year, Boxer sold a 1.4-acre piece of the mall to the Charlotte Area Transit System for $771,000. CATS had a small community bus station on the site and had been leasing the land. When the sale closes, Boxer will have sold its $2 million stake in the mall for more than $6 million.
• $2.5 million to Sears, Roebuck and Co. for its empty anchor store.
• $1.2 million each to Belk and Eastland Fields (owner of the old J.C. Penney/Burlington Coat Factory store).
• $1.14 million to Higbee LANCOMS, which owns the empty Dillard’s building.
• $925,000 each to EJB Charlotte, which owns the empty Firestone building, and H/V Central Avenue, which owns the empty Hollywood Video store.
The average price per acre is $163,501. Under the old 2009 proposed purchase price of $22.24 million, the city would have spent $266,000 an acre.
The firm FMW Real Estate negotiated with the seven owners and drew up the contracts.
The Charlotte Observer contributed to this story.