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Economic Development Committee expected to dump Studio Charlotte on Thursday

CHARLOTTE – The City Council Economic Development & Global Competitiveness Committee meets Thursday and is expected to recommend that the full council take a different course on redeveloping Eastland Mall and end exclusive negotiations with Studio Charlotte Development.

In October, the city entered into a six-month period of exclusive negotiations with Studio Charlotte, and that period expires at the end of the month. Studio Charlotte’s plan is a $300 million, multiphase plan to bring a movie studio complex to the former site of the Eastland Mall, off Central Avenue.

At a meeting earlier this month, Studio Charlotte CEO Bert Hesse asked the committee for a five-month extension on the memorandum of understanding that provided the negotiating exclusivity, and asked that the city help fund an environmental study of the site to determine if it is development-ready.

But committee members at the March 6 meeting expressed interest in ending the exclusive negotiations and considering other alternatives. After that meeting, Hesse said his plan to bring the film industry to Eastland Mall was “on life support.”

The full City Council will vote on any future proposals, but doesn’t have to vote to end negotiations with Studio Charlotte since the memorandum of understanding expires March 31.

The city hasn’t given specifics on what it plans to do next, but is expected to offer a glimpse of that at Thursday’s meeting. Brad Richardson, the city’s economic development director, said it’s possible the city could entertain the idea of subdividing the Eastland parcel and allowing multiple developers to work at the site. Ending the exclusive negotiations with Studio Charlotte doesn’t necessarily mean the developer is done at Eastland, but Hesse said he isn’t interested in splitting the parcel with other developers.

The development committee meeting will be held at noon Thursday at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, at 600 E. Fourth St. in Uptown.

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