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Council OKs airline agreement, extends city manager’s contract

Members defer sale of former Eastland Mall property

The Charlotte City Council voted Monday to approve a use and lease agreement for Charlotte Douglas International Airport and to extend City Manager Ron Carlee’s contract.

Council members deferred action on the sale of 11.4 acres of the former Eastland Mall site to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts said a rezoning hearing will be held Monday and the city’s economic  development committee will review the proposed sale before the council takes it up April 25.

The board of education has submitted an offer to purchase  the 11.4 acres of city-owned land at the former mall site for $650,000.

The board also will contribute $400,000 for the planning, design and construction of the Hollyfield Drive extension. The city will reimburse the board for the remaining costs of the road.

The city has submitted an application to rezone the property to allow for a school.

The city bought the property in 2012 for $13.2 million with plans to have a single developer propose a large, multi-use project and demolished the mall in 2013.

However, it could not come to an agreement with Studio Charlotte Development, which proposed a $300 million phased-in project that would include a movie studio, sound stages, a film school, a cinema, a hotel, apartments and shops.

In 2014, the City Council unanimously rejected Studio Charlotte Development’s request for a five-month extension on exclusive negotiating rights for the project.

The only other proposal was from ARK Ventures, which in August 2013 pulled its proposal for a $154 million recreation and entertainment complex that would have included an artificial ski slope and a skate park.

Council members now are considering a vision for transforming the 80-acre site into a transit-oriented, mixed-use hub with parks.

The magnet school, the first phase of the redevelopment process, would be at the northeast corner of the property near Wilora Lake Road.

The planning committee voted 6-1 last year to recommend the city not sell the land to CMS, citing concerns about whether a school is the proper venue to attract further economic development and whether the property could accommodate portable classrooms, should the need arise.

The city paid $13.2 million for the deserted mall in east Charlotte several years ago with the intention of revitalizing the economically depressed area through a sale to the private sector.

During a dinner briefing Monday, council members heard an overview of the airport’s use and lease agreement, which was negotiated with American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

The agreement represents a 10-year commitment to operate at the airport.

The agreement goes into effect July 1.

The council also voted to extend Carlee’s contract through at least June 30, the end of fiscal year 2016, so he can help oversee the budget adoption process.

Last month, Carlee announced he would not seek an extension of his contract. He was named city manager in 2013 and has been at an annual salary of $245,000 since.

Roberts said during Monday’s council meeting that the city and Carlee agreed he would stay on through completion of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget process. His new annual salary will be $306,250, Roberts said.

“I am pleased Ron has agreed to stay through the budget process,” the mayor said in a statement. “The council and I are committed to providing meaningful enhancements to public safety in a responsible and sustainable manner and we will benefit from Ron’s depth of knowledge about municipal finance as well as his creativity in identifying options for us to consider.”

“I am happy to continue with the city during this transition,” Carlee said, also in a statement. “I actually enjoy budgeting, especially with the highly skilled budget team in the city. The budget is a huge puzzle of over two billion pieces that can create many different pictures depending on how the pieces are put together. I look forward to helping the Mayor and council create the picture that fits their policy vision for Charlotte.”

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