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Eastland snag adds suspense to deal with city

CHARLOTTE — A deal that could bring film studios to east Charlotte has developed a plot twist.

The city has been planning to buy the former Eastland Mall for $13.2 million, in a deal that is supposed to happen this month. But Houston-based Boxer Properties, which owns the mall’s core retail space, is holding up the sale over $20,000 in old leases.

On Monday, the Charlotte City Council met in a closed session to discuss the terms of the deal, which includes buying the core space and anchor stores, the former Firestone and Hollywood Video buildings and the 80-plus-acre property.

When the council voted July 23 in favor of the purchase, most councilmembers said they were thrilled that something was finally happening with the mall, which was shuttered two years ago. Boxer bought the core retail space at 5471 Central Ave. for $2 million in June 2010, saying that it wanted to reopen Eastland as a mall with a Hispanic theme. But Boxer failed to deliver on those plans.

Then, this summer, the city said the film industry was interested in possibly putting sound stages in the mall, an idea councilmembers seemed to support at the July 23 meeting.

Councilwoman Beth Pickering went so far as to say the proposed purchase is the best idea that has come before the City Council in her first term, and Councilman John Autry, who represents the area where the mall is located, said the city’s purchase would bring much-needed revitalization to the eastern part of the city.

The city has until Friday to finalize the deal. Meanwhile, at least one councilwoman is confident that it will take place.

“I think it will be all right,” Claire Fallon said. “It will go through.”

Payton Guion can be reached at payton.guion@mecktimes.com, (704) 817-1344 or on Twitter at @paytonguion.

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