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What movie title best describes the city’s purchase of Eastland Mall?

In the past two years since Houston-based Boxer Properties bought the core retail space of Eastland Mall, the mall has just sat there, empty and closed. Enter the city of Charlotte. Last week the City Council voted in favor of buying the property from Boxer for about $13 million, in an attempt to finally put the site back into use. Some city officials claim that those in the film industry are interested in the site, possibly for sound stages. So, we asked some people which movie title applies to the city’s purchase. The choices: “Dumb & Dumber, “Real Genius” or “Risky Business.”

Note: We would have added “Psycho” to the list, but we thought about it after.

Claire Fallon, Charlotte councilwoman

I would call it “Hopeful Anticipation.”

Our hopes are pinned on the movie and television companies, which are here already. I think the inquiries (by those industries) have made us hopeful. I have someone that’s interested in going there (who is) attendant to the movie business; hopefully that will work out.

We had to do something to help that community, and this is the most logical to me. I saw it work in New York at Silvercup (Studios), which was a bread factory. What sprung up around it was little boutique-ey breakfast places and lunch places, little stores that made a difference.

 

Terry Robertson, co-chairman of Charlotte East, a neighborhood group

If I had to choose between the three, I would say “Real Genius,” but that doesn’t get it. I think it was an excellent idea, primarily because the property has been neglected for so long. There were no private companies willing to come in and deal with six or seven different owners to try and buy that property.

The reason I do like the movie and television industry idea is because Charlotte and the state of North Carolina are very business-friendly, which is what people in the film industry are looking for. They are leaving California in droves because of the high taxes that make it an unfriendly climate to make movies in that state.

 

Bill Miley, manager of Metrostudy’s Charlotte division

“Risky Business,” because in 2005 Urban Land Institute did a huge market study on Eastland Mall, about what to do with it. They were talking at that time that it would need more of a mixed-use area: commercial, retail and housing. I still (think) that’s the more viable option.

I know they want to preserve the character of the Eastside, and I just don’t know if making a big commercial film studio addresses that.

 

John Nichols, owner of The Nichols Co.

If you’re going to pick something, I guess “Risky Business,” but I don’t know if it’s that risky for them. I would prefer “Necessary Roughness.” In this market, for what they paid for it, it’s still a pretty unbelievable deal.

From what I understand, they use these big warehouse spaces. They need 24-foot ceilings with no columns. Eastland has relatively low ceilings, because it’s an older mall.

All the talk about it being a soundstage for movies would be great for Charlotte. I don’t know whether or not it will happen, though. It will be interesting to see if that happens.

We are 20 percent of the cost of what it takes in LA or San Francisco, just because of rents.

 

Keith Bell, managing partner for Mohr Partners

Not “Dumb and Dumber.” I think it’s a mix between “Risky Business” and “Real Genius.”

I think because of what they’ve had over in that sector they needed something positive, and I think the city will do the positive thing, to a certain extent.

I think the relationship the city has with developers, people that want to get in, they can strategize. I think it’s (film studios) great. There is a lot of space in Charlotte leased by the film industry. If there was a go-to place to say, “Hey, look at what we have,” it would be a lot easier to attract movies.

Don Reid, former Charlotte councilman

It’s “Dumb and Dumber.”

I have a philosophical opposition to it. It’s not the proper role of government to invest in property like this. It takes it off the tax roll, No. 1, and government isn’t good at investing in anything. I can give you a dozen examples here in town when I was on City Council and since then. Best example is NASCAR (Hall of Fame), Whitewater (Center) and so on.

It’s simply not the job of the government. How can you invest in property when our infrastructure isn’t good? Our priorities are out of whack.

 

Mary Newsom,
associate director of urban and
regional affairs for UnCC’s
urban institute

It’s “Risky Business” and possible genius, but that’s the risk.

I wouldn’t use the word “genius,” but it could prove to be a smart move. If the city, by putting the property together and putting smart conditions on what happens to it, is able to reinvigorate that piece of east Charlotte … (it) would be a boon to taxpayers and residents throughout the city.

They need to pay attention to what gets built there. If (not they might) end up with a big film studio that’s a big, blank-walled building surrounded by surface-parking lots, because that’s pretty much what they have right now. When it went dead, it wasn’t pretty.

The city should enforce strict requirements on design, something that’s resilient, and I mean that if things don’t work out, it can transition into something else over time, because the economy is going to change.

So what’s a good movie title? It may be a good idea. “Definitely, Maybe.” That’s a good one.

 

GUION can be reached at payton.guion@mecktimes.com.

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