Eastland MallEdit profile
Eastland Mall was a shopping mall in Charlotte, North Carolina. The center opened in 1975 as the then-largest mall in North Carolina with three anchor department stores, Belk, J.C. Penney and Ivey's, and a Sears store joined four years later. Burlington Coat Factory, the mall's final anchor, has closed, leaving all anchors vacant. The mall was owned by Glimcher Realty Trust and the City of Charlotte. Glimcher requested the mall be put into receivership due to heavy debt, and there have been reports of the mall entering foreclosure. LNR sold the interior space in the mall to Boxer Properties of Houston for $2 million. It has ceased operations as of June 30, 2010 but a new owner plans to reopen the mall by late 2011. While closed the property owner is still expected to keep the mall secure, safe and tended to as required by city ordinance.
The Eastland Community Transit Center, a planned stop on the LYNX Rapid Transit Services Center City Corridor, is located in the parking lot at the mall.
Development began on a shopping center in east Charlotte in the early 1970s after seeing the success of SouthPark Mall about six miles (10 km) away. Henry Faison, the developer, recalls planning the mall with a team of only six people. In 1975, Eastland Mall opened to much fanfare as the biggest mall in North Carolina at that time (superseded shortly after by Hanes Mall). Eastland Mall had a skating rink and the first food court in North Carolina. Additionally, the mall included an outparcel convenience center with a Harris Teeter grocery store.
Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Eastland was considered by many to be the finest mall in Charlotte. Miller & Rhoads joined as a junior anchor, and when Sears was added in 1979, the mall had four anchor stores (SouthPark only had three), but that was soon to change. SouthPark expanded and began an upscale trend, and with the opening of the mid-market Carolina Place Mall in the early 1990s a suburban retail shift was occurring. Also in the early 1990s, Ivey's became Dillard's and the store expanded, and the mall's interior was renovated and updated as well.
By the late 1990s, Eastland Mall's image and physical appearance began to degrade. Adding to the retail shift in Charlotte, demographic changes and ethnic shifts to the surrounding areas have changed the retail makeup of the mall. Crime rates also increased around the mall. In late 2005 there was a shooting inside the mall near the Gourmet Gardens food court and also a shooting outside in the parking lot. Another shooting took place in 2006 near the food court. A bullet smashed one of the glass doors and one person was shot.
Mall and city officials cite that it is "a perception of crime" that has scared patrons away as opposed to actual crime happening every day.
The first original anchor store to depart the mall was J.C. Penney, which left in 2002, a few years after becoming a J.C. Penney Outlet store. In 2004, the anchor space was split up and a Burlington Coat Factory store took the upper level, while the bottom space was subdivided between a Fred's discount store and Prime Time store. Dillard's closed off one level of their store in 2005, and operated a Dillard's Outlet on the other level.
The Harris Teeter store on the periphery closed on June 26, 2006, after being in operation since 1975. The store cited underperformance as the cause for its closure; however, changing demographics and lack of investment in remodeling may have contributed to this store's demise.
Belk closed in 2007, becoming the third anchor to leave the mall. Following Belk's departure, Limited Brands closed all five of their stores inside the mall, which included Bath & Body Works, The Limited and Victoria's Secret. Fred's and Prime Time closed as well, followed by the Dillard's Outlet and movie theater in late 2008.
These retail changes have been accompanied by a degradation of the mall's physical appearance, which has deteriorated to the point that its owner, Glimcher Realty Trust, labeled the mall a "fixer-upper". The mall's deterioration has been mirrored in its surrounding area, labeled "corridors of crap" by Charlotte's then-current mayor due to its inexpensive and aging retail structures.
On February 26, 2009 Sears Holdings Corporation announced that the Sears store at Eastland would close on May 31, another major blow to the beleaguered mall. This left the city of Charlotte without a Sears store inside its city limits., however there is one at the nearby Carolina Place Mall.
On February 27, 2010, Burlington Coat Factory, the mall's sole remaining anchor, announced that it would be departing the struggling mall on March 20 due to "ownership questions, lack of customer traffic, and weak sales." The mall no longer has any anchor stores.Renovatus
In October, 2009 Renovatus, a Christian church took up residence in the mall's long shuttered theater. Renovatus, which calls itself "A Church for people under renovation", hoped to help reverse the decline in fortunes of the mall and it's surrounding area, and clear Eastland of the violent, dangerous stigma that surrounds it. However, with the mall's closure, the church vacated its space.
The church has since merged with an existing congregation, Central at Little Rock Church of God. The united congregation, called Renovatus church, has permanently moved to 1209 Little Rock Rd. Charlotte, North Carolinaand also holds weekly services in the former PTL Television Network studios at the old Heritage USA complex in Fort Mill, South Carolina.
One day after the announcement of Belk's departure, Eastland Mall officials announced the original movie theater showing first-run films would reopen after closing in 1996. It had reopened in the last few years but was only specializing in foreign language films and 'G' and 'PG' rated films.
On March 8, 2007, the Urban Land Institute Advisory Council shared its recommendations: to tear the mall down and make it into a vibrant community center with mixed-use shopping and an amusement park. Full report of ULI's findings.
The City of Charlotte had acquired an option to buy the vacant Dillard's anchor space, and rumors allege that Glimcher may walk away from the portion of the mall that it controls rather than pay an upcoming mortgage payment on the Eastland $42 million mortgage.
In an earnings press release dated July 23, 2008, Glimcher Realty Trust announced that it "will not fund any further cash deficits at the property." The company also requested court-appointed receivership and liquidation for the property.
In February 2009, the former Ice House ice skating rink, which had been closed the previous year, was replaced with a soccer field. For a mall that had received a brunt of negativity, this is one major positive for Eastland. Like the rest of the mall, however, the soccer field closed.
In September 2009, the mall's owner said that if the city of Charlotte did not purchase the mall, it would be shuttered. The council decided against that on November 2006. However, as of February 2010, the mall stated that it was still leasing space and does not plan to close.
On April 16, 2010, tenants were notified that they must vacate by June 30, 2010 because a foreclosure action was filed against the mall. According to letters sent to tenants "it is understood that the lender or any other party that acquires title to Eastland Mall at foreclosure will close the mall."
On June 28, 2010, ownership of the inner stores, parking lot and a few of the smaller outside buildings surrounding Eastland Mall were transferred to Boxer Properties according to a deed filed in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on that date. The fate of the anchor stores however hang in the balance. Boxer is expected to bring in retail and small-office tenants that fit with the diverse nature of Charlotte's east side, similar to the company's redevelopment of La Gran Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas, with a planned reopening of the mall by Christmas 2011.