New Proposal Emerges For Former Eastland Mall Location
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (News Release) — QC East is a visionary project set to transform the former Eastland Mall site into a vibrant sports, tech and entertainment hub. Bob Durkin and Rob Pedlow of Southern Entertainment have constructed a proposal that would bring together a collaborative team of industry leaders with a unified mission to implement opportunities through sports, tech, cultural arts and entertainment that will positively impact the growth and development of East Charlotte.
This multipurpose facility will benefit the community physically, culturally and educationally through youth sports, entertainment, special events, esports, and technology. The concept of QC East is designed to be one of the most diverse facilities in the U.S. and is poised to be an economic powerhouse for both the community and the city.
The development of QC East will be a combination of three major components led by firms with a specific expertise and track record of success in their respective fields. Charlotte Soccer Academy, will provide the development expertise, and operational experience for all aspects of the scheduling and management for the athletic fields and facilities. Southern Entertainment will co-lead the development of the project and provide programming, production and operational services related to Cultural Arts, Entertainment and Events. The Carolina Esports Hub and Stay Plugged In, in addition to a co-development role will focus on the establishment, programming and operations of the Esports and Tech Hub. The Esports and Tech Hub will offer STEM related educational opportunities for youth and adults, in addition to other esports events, competitions and entertainment programming. Together, this team brings decades of expertise in entertainment, sports, and technology, with a shared vision to transform the former mall site into a dynamic and thriving destination for public events, esports activities, sports development, and more.
“We are thrilled to have such an accomplished team of partners on board for the potential development of QC East,” said Bob Durkin of Southern Entertainment. “Our combined knowledge in various areas of entertainment, sports, and technology will be invaluable in creating a dynamic and inclusive space that serves the needs of the local and regional community, if given the opportunity.”
Established in 1975, Eastland Mall was once known as the largest mall in North Carolina, boasting 80 acres of property filled with a million square feet of retail space, beloved stores, and even a skating rink. However, in recent years, the mall has faced challenges and remained vacant, prompting the prospect of redevelopment into QC East.
“Like many in our community I have been frustrated by the Eastland Mall situation for the last decade, and while I am very appreciative of the efforts by the bidding teams, I was very concerned after the last round that we didn’t have a viable solution,” said Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari. “So when the Council decided to extend the bidding process for an additional 60 days, I immediately jumped into action to see if I could find the best concepts, with the most proven track records of raising capital and executing on big visions, and piece together a bid that could not just be a winner, but also jump start the engine of an entire part of town while addressing the biggest desires of the residents who live there.”
Bokhari went on to say, “Since this approach is a bit unique, I stayed in regular consultation with the City Attorney. I am confident after his assessment that every aspect of this intensive mission I’ve been on for the last 60 days is beyond reproach, and since I am a minority investor of one of the several companies making up this bid, I will be recusing myself from all Council deliberations and decisions on this matter going forward.”
The proposed development of QC East will be designed around six athletic fields that can be used for multiple sports. The fields and athletic related amenities such as, physical therapy, sports medicine and sports performance training facilities will create a state-of-the-art sports complex providing resources not currently available in the community. The engineering and design of the facility will allow for the production of various sized indoor and outdoor entertainment for the production of a diverse slate of cultural arts and entertainment events on select dates throughout the year. The facility will also feature ‘The Hub’, an indoor outdoor flex space that will serve as a home for community gathering events, esports gaming, STEM related educational opportunities, competitions and entertainment.
“Charlotte Soccer Academy is extremely excited about being a part of this major project at the Eastland mall site in our home city of Charlotte, NC. As a non-profit youth organization, we pride ourselves on providing a platform for children to play soccer regardless of their age, ability, gender, economic status, and aspirations in the sport. We are flattered to be given an opportunity to partner in a project that can provide more fields and facilities for our community, which only enhances our mission to assist in growing sports throughout the city where soccer has become more popular over the past few years in this country, specifically in Charlotte with our new MLS team. CSA has annually hosted several tournaments which bring in a significant amount of economic impact to our great city, with our field network we have in place around the community. Having an additional site close to uptown adds to the opportunities that will be presented to us to bring in more events at a regional and national level to put Charlotte on the map as a soccer city hub for the future here in the US.” -Brad Wylde, Executive Director, Charlotte Soccer Academy
“Providing a pathway forward for students and young adults has always, and will always be at the forefront of what drives us here at the Carolina Esports Hub,” said Richard Suarez, Managing Director. “The opportunity to partner with the teams at Southern Entertainment and Charlotte Soccer Academy was a no-brainer for us. It is this type of strategic partnership that allows us to help drive real change and impact the lives of many, specifically on the East Side and further throughout the Charlotte area as well. We have a proven track record of connecting students to opportunities through gaming. We are excited to work closely with the community to continue that mission.”
In addition to the significant entertainment and recreational opportunities, QC East has the potential to create jobs and generate income that will invigorate the local community. QC East aims to be a catalyst for economic growth in East Charlotte, the city, and county overall. This potential project will provide a broad range of employment opportunities in multiple industries and establish upward mobility for the Charlotte area. The facility is anticipated to attract visitors from the local community as well as from neighboring regions, stimulating economic activity in East Charlotte, including nearby restaurants, hotels, and businesses. QC East will stimulate economic growth throughout the region, laying the foundation for a national thumbprint in the industry.
“We have a great concept that offers multiple components to a broad range of people, however we recognize that a focus on community engagement is critical to shape the final product and to ensure the best possible fit for the community and the development of an enduring productive asset for the City and County,” said Rob Pedlow of Southern Entertainment. ”The name QC East is simply a placeholder. We want community involvement in naming this potential asset to East Charlotte”.
With the potential to provide over $111 million in annual economic impact, $34 million in labor income, and $5.8 million+ in annual city and county tax collections, this redevelopment project aims to enhance the perceptions of East Charlotte as the place to live and work, while attracting visitors from across the region through athletics, entertainment, and technology. QC East aims to revitalize the area, improve its economic impact, and create a vibrant, inclusive, and connected community that benefits residents, businesses, and visitors alike.
About Southern Entertainment
Southern Entertainment is a leading cultural arts and musical events producer based in Charlotte, NC, hosting more than 300,000 attendees each year. With 30 years of experience developing and managing facilities and producing events, SE is well positioned to co-lead the development and programming of a calendar full of engaging, multicultural food, music, and arts experiences at QC EAST.
About Charlotte Soccer Academy
CSA is Charlotte’s leading organizer of youth and travel soccer, organizing hundreds of events annually, serving 300 teams and 7,300 players. CSA’s programs range from recreational to elite players with expectations to play in college or professionally. CSA’s experience organizing local and regional travel events ensures the athletic fields will operate at full capacity.
About Carolina Esports Hub
CEH stands at the intersection of gaming and STEM, providing curriculum and recruiting services to more than 12,000 students and 350 institutions. Named the leading college esports recruiting platform in the US by the 2022 Esports Foundry Annual Survey. CEH produces esports events and associated livestreams at its 11,000 SF facility in Charlotte, NC. CEH’s expertise and experience are the perfect combination to serve as QC EAST’s technical, esports and educational partner.