Matt Kusak, 31, grew up in east Charlotte and saw the deterioration of the mall over time. For him, he said, Eastland Mall was the place to be. Once a thriving and popular shopping center, it closed in 2010 due, in part, to diminished traffic and increased crime.
Today, it’s a construction lot that doesn’t quite have a set future.
Past plans for the former site of Eastland Mall have included a movie studio, a sports field, and a retail complex, among others.
Last night, Charlotte City Council discussed three potential plans to make the Eastland Mall site an place that could boost the economy in east Charlotte.
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Why it matters: The site is located within one of six Corridors of Opportunity, the city’s initiative to create safer environments through affordable housing, improving transportation and urban design. Charlotte City Council has pledged to use the 69-acre lot to revitalize east Charlotte.
The racquet center would have 80 indoor/outdoor courts for tennis, pickleball and racquetball. Building it would cost about $55 million, with $45 million coming from public dollars.
The swimming center would have one to two 50-meter swimming pools, be home to a swim team, and host swim meets. The center would also have a community program to teach people how to swim.
The Target Store would span 148,000 square feet on up to 15 acres of land.
Crosland Southeast, the site’s primary developer, is set to receive approximately $35 million in public dollars to develop infrastructure such as roads.
City Council voted to give developers 60 days to refine their proposals.
Kusak, the pastor of Edifi Church, opened a church in the area approximately five months ago. The church operates from Charlotte East Language Academy, which built on a portion of the mall site.
Since its debut, the church began “Serve Saturday,” where it met monthly to collect trash on the Eastland Mall site before developers broke ground. And in just a few months, with the help of over 20 volunteers, his team collected over 1,500 pounds of trash from the site.
“During our Serve Saturdays, we found all kinds of trash, including beer cans, condoms, sex toys and car parts,” Kusak told QCity Metro.
“But the one that shocked me the most was found by my 7-year-old son, who found a water bottle full of used needles. I quickly realized this trash was not a physical representation of our community but a spiritual one.”
For Kusak, he said, the redevelopment is a step in the right direction. He plans to stay in east Charlotte to grow the church and restore the community he calls home.