In 2006, Charlotte City Council identified the area as one of the city’s five priority corridors and subsequently engaged the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to offer recommendations on how to transform it into a hub of activity for the east side. Findings from ULI’s panel of industry experts suggested the area:
- had an oversupply of retail
- was obsolete in many ways
- lacked a desirable retail format for modern shoppers
- was surrounded by a public realm that failed to meet consumer needs
- was no longer considered the destination it once was, partially due to increasing competition from more modern and upscale retail centers
Consistent with the ULI findings, the mall declined and eventually closed in 2010 in response to increasing competition from more modern and upscale retail centers. Recognizing the catalytic possibilities of a large and highly visible property, the City purchased more than 80 acres of the site to facilitate the site’s redevelopment. In 2013, following much analysis on the potential reuse of the mall’s buildings, City Council voted to demolish the buildings on the property.
In 2012, the City issued a Request for Interest (RFI) for the mall property. Although, it received few responses to the RFI, the City opted to proceed with the solicitation process and ultimately selected a team which proposed developing a $150 million film studio complex. As described in the submittal, the proposed development included a mix of education, retail, and residential uses in addition to the facilities required for the studio’s operations. In October 2013, City Council authorized the City Manager to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the development team.
The success of the proposed studio complex depended upon the renewal of the state tax credits for the film industry and a successful negotiation of key terms for a public-private partnership. In response to the financial challenges to ready the site and the uncertainty around the state's decision to renew the tax incentives, the City terminated its negotiations with the studio development team in March 2014.