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Bridges at Mint Hill


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#1 DigitalSky

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 12:50 AM

Mint Hill to get upscale retail

1.3 million square feet of restaurants, entertainment, stores in stylish, open-air setting

DOUG SMITH

A mall-size retail development is in the works for a 200-acre tract in east Mecklenburg on the outskirts of Mint Hill.

Developers General Growth Properties Inc. of Chicago and Charlotte's Childress Klein Properties are teaming on The Bridges at Mint Hill at Interstate 485 and Lawyers Road.

Their goal is to open in spring 2007.

At 1.3 million square feet, the upscale open-air retail and entertainment center would be slightly smaller than SouthPark and Concord Mills, each about 1.4 million square feet, but it won't look like either of them.

There would be no enclosed mall. Department stores -- a 150,000-square-foot Belk is the first to be announced -- specialty shops, restaurants and a movie theater would be free-standing amid pedestrian-friendly amenities and water features.

The design incorporates some of the features of Childress Klein Properties' Promenade on Providence shopping center at Providence Road and I-485, but the closest thing to the Mint Hill concept in this region probably is the outdoor portion of The Streets at SouthPoint in Durham.

It was the first shopping complex in the state to combine an enclosed mall with outdoor stores.

SouthPoint clusters shops and restaurants outside along a main street with three water fountains to give visitors the experience of strolling along a traditional American downtown avenue.

"A lot is still being determined as we do the site plan and architectural layout for The Bridges at Mint Hill, but you could say it will be The Streets at SouthPoint taken to a new level," said General Growth Properties spokeswoman Julie Jacoby.

General Growth, the nation's second-largest shopping center owner, owns The Streets at SouthPoint as well as Carolina Place mall in Pineville.

The signature features and the namesake of The Bridges at Mint Hill will be pedestrian and vehicular bridges over a creek that runs through the site.

Childress Klein's Chris Thomas said developers might be able to start site work by the end of the year. He didn't disclose the price tag. Local experts say such construction typically costs about $100 a square foot, which would put the cost in the range of $130 million.

The project -- in the works for more than three years -- is the latest example of I-485's potential to transform formerly rural acreage as it encircles the county.

In many cases controversy follows, but the developers of this project say they have worked in harmony with Mint Hill officials and believe they are proceeding in step with the town's vision for the interchange.

They filed a rezoning petition late last week with the town, which has jurisdiction over the property, now zoned for residential development.

Thomas characterized the land as "a mixture of rural residential and pasture land. There are a lot more cows than people."

The developers view the new center as a gateway to Mint Hill and as an extension of the town's central business district. Lawyers Road is the main thoroughfare linking downtown Mint Hill to I-485, about two miles away.

The development plan calls for Mint Hill -- about 15,000 population in the last census -- to annex the center.

Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers couldn't be reached Friday for comment. But in a prepared statement, he said, "Childress Klein and General Growth Properties have a great reputation for delivering high-quality projects that are community friendly. It will be interesting to see what they bring to Mint Hill."

Keith MacVean, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission's zoning administrator, said he was informed of the project. But since it's in Mint Hill's jurisdiction, he hasn't been involved.

"It sounds like a great approach to that large a retail center -- open-air and pedestrian-oriented," he said. "Our concern -- if we're going to have a concern -- is it's close to the interchange. Are we overloading our interchanges with destination areas that tend to clog up?"

He said he expects Mint Hill officials and the developers to conduct traffic studies and work with the state to minimize traffic backup on access ramps.

Childress Klein's Thomas said the Mint Hill trade area is "underserved by quality retailers." He said people who live in the area typically drive to Carolina Place in Pineville, SouthPark in south Charlotte or Eastland Mall in east Charlotte.

The developers say The Bridges of Mint Hill would be about halfway between SouthPark and Concord Mills. Northlake mall, to open in September, is off I-77 in north Mecklenburg, more than 15 miles away.

The Mint Hill center is expected to attract shoppers from parts of Union and Cabarrus counties as well as Mecklenburg.

It would be about eight miles east of 1.2 million-square-foot Eastland Mall on Central Avenue. The potential impact on Eastland is unclear.

Eastland has three department stores -- Belk, Dillard's and Sears -- but it has been in the midst of a makeover in recent years. A public-private coalition is working to turn it into a community center on the east side.

Belk spokesman Steve Pernotto said, "It's way too soon to say" if the new Mint Hill store would have any effect on the Belk at Eastland.

The Mint Hill department store would be less than half the size of Belk's flagship, 329,000-square-foot store at SouthPark. Pernotto said it would stock "a significant portion of the most wanted merchandise" and emphasize fashion in all areas, from cosmetics to home.

It would be full service and include a gift registry, gift-wrapping and alterations.

He said the store -- a roughly $16 million investment -- would resemble a free-standing store that has been successful for Belk at Mount Pleasant Towne Centre outside Charleston.

"That whole open-air concept is unique," he said. "It's almost a mini city where you can walk and talk and sit outside -- and you don't need an automobile to go from store to store."

In addition to Belk, The Bridges at Mint Hill is expected to have two other free-standing anchors of similar size plus specialty stores, restaurants, a bookstore and a movie theater.

The developers say design plans aren't detailed enough yet for them to say how many stores would be included. Malls in the million-square-foot range typically have 100 or more.

The theater would be the centerpiece of a restaurant-entertainment district fronting Lawyers Road. An open-air street of shops would be built along I-485.

Charlotte's LandDesign Inc. is the land planner. Doug Smith

 

#2 DigitalSky

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 01:03 AM

A few rumors I've heard...

Dillard's will *leave* their location at Eastland mall for this new location

Best Buy and Toys R Us are both scouting new locations due to much increased crime at their Independence Boulevard locations, and this new center sounds appealing.

and the usual "always" rumor that comes when new malls are announced that
Sears, JC Penney, Hecht's and dept. stores of the sort could also be heading to this center

your thoughts...

Edited by cantnot, 25 January 2005 - 12:44 PM.


#3 Neo

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 08:27 AM

:cry:

It's hard enough making a left going southbound on the 485 exit at Lawyers as it is, makes my drive home worse. They should really make sure they have the infrastructure in place before starting such a development off of a two lane road like this.

#4 dubone

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 10:03 AM

If these stores all ditch eastland and independence and go waaaaaaaaay out to mint hill, it may open up the possibility of these stores opening near uptown eventually. Otherwise, i think this is terrible news for the east side, and independence corridor. With Harris Teeter already gone from Independence, losing Best Buy will be a a very bad omen.

Do you all think that charlotte's lack of budge in granting retail zoning at albemarle/485 drove developers/Mint Hill to do such a large project outside of Charlotte's limits? They refused to grant the changes because they didn't want to risk the current retail areas... but if they fail anyway, then charlotte lost all that revenue.

#5 DigitalSky

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 10:23 PM

If these stores all ditch eastland and independence and go waaaaaaaaay out to mint hill, it may open up the possibility of these stores opening near uptown eventually.    Otherwise, i think this is terrible news for the east side, and independence corridor.  With Harris Teeter already gone from Independence, losing Best Buy will be a a very bad omen.

Do you all think that charlotte's lack of budge in granting retail zoning at albemarle/485 drove developers/Mint Hill to do such a large project outside of Charlotte's limits?  They refused to grant the changes because they didn't want to risk the current retail areas... but if they fail anyway, then charlotte lost all that revenue.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I don't think this had much to do with the Albemarle/485 thing since this had been planned for years at Lawyers Rd... developers really wanted to do something either at 485 and Lawyers or 485 and Idlewild.

#6 Charboy65

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 10:48 PM

Great! More sprawl :(

#7 reverbandwhiskey

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Posted 25 January 2005 - 03:47 AM

Just what Charlotte needs, yet ANOTHER mall.

:angry:

#8 StevenRocks

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 01:28 AM

Anytime new highways create new major intersections, retail follows.

I'm sure the people in Mint Hill are estatic, but even if the anchor stores at Eastland don't immediately close, they're probably going to fade away fast.

Belk's already cut back a lot, and I've been figuring they're going to close as soon as they the get the Nothlake store on its feet anyway. Throwing Mint Hill into the mix definately makes it toast. :(

#9 norm21499

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 02:40 AM

So if Eastland is gonna survive, it either has to turn into a completely different mall altogether.....or fail and close.

#10 DigitalSky

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 03:16 AM

Ok guys - I hear that Dillard's will not be going to this new project, but another new project planned in Stallings (Idlewild at 485, 1 exit south).

See this topic: http://www.urbanplan...?showtopic=8720

#11 StevenRocks

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 08:28 AM

Someone deleted your post on the other thread

What are they thinking? Two simlar projects that close with that population base are going to spread the store offerings too thin and increase the spawl. What inevitably happens is that one mall fails in time because there's not enough business to keep it afloat.

It would be better for everyone involved if the stores gathered at one exit and a coordinated trasportation and pedestrian system to move people from the highway and parking to the main center through the coming satelite centers was constructed. The way they're setting this up, people who want to comparasin shop at, say, Belk & Dillard's will have to get back in the car and repark, wasting gas and time.

I don't understand fully why these stores feel they need to leave Eastland. The place is always full. Don't people in that neighborhood deserve good places to shop, too?

#12 monsoon

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 09:26 AM

The stores found in malls without exception exist to sell items at much higher prices that can be obtained almost anywhere else. They get away with this by selling intangibles such as "prestige", "snob appeal, and sometimes atmosphere. Many people in Charlotte put much stock in paying way too much for a Chinese made shirts, as long as they can take it home in a Nordstroms, Saks, etc bag.

However, the demographics around Eastland have changed to the point that most of the people in the area will not support this type of retail. Putting food on the table is more important than wasting money in a Mall store. Hence, the mall, Eastland fails in its original purpose.

Some malls enjoy a resurgence in being re-born as something else. The Tryon Mall -> Asian Mall tranformation is the biggest example of this in Charlotte. Sadly behemothis such as Eastland are so expensive because of their size, this may never happen. And to worsen the problem, the Charlotte City Council allows other malls to be built with the same stores where the "pickings" are better. Case in point, Northlake being built in the affluent North. (the affluent part is actually beyond the Charlotte city limits in the North but the Northern towns would never approve a mall such as Northlake)

#13 StevenRocks

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 06:51 PM

I agree with a lot of things you said, meroboi. There's not an appreciable difference what one buys at Nordstrom and what one buys at Wal-Mart, especially if one focuses on aesthetics. The majority of people would be better off shedding themselves of some of the snobbery that comes along with materialism. But malls and retailers that deal in nuance rather than commodity are not inherently wrong.

We're always talking about as a culture why people buy so much stuff and how bad certain retailers are. The reason we shop so much, along with incessant, presuasive marketing, is that humans of all types, even in the seemingly least materialistic cultures, define themselves by what they have. Even simple remote villages in Africa and Asia have people who define themselves by what they have, even if it's just a little more than the next guy. You can't fight human nature.

The reason that retailers define themselves as upscale, downscale, and whatever's in-between is because someone had sense enough to tap into people's egoes to make money to live a better life. That, my friend, is capitalism at work.

I don't fault the Nordstroms, the Belks, the Waltons, or any of their investors or merchants for making me feel at home in their store so I can buy stuff I don't need. I'm glad to shop wherever I shop, and it makes me feel good to do so. I don't care if you think SouthPark's too expensive; as long as you don't deride me for spending my money as I please. We can agree to disagree and stay out of each other's pocketbooks. I'm not alone in this opinion.

Concerning Eastland, I don't think it's a failure any more than I thought Uptown Charlotte was a failure when it emptied in the '70s and '80s. It just needs to redefine itsef to fit into its new environment. That may mean some major changes, but they're achievable if the parties involved work towards them with an open mind.

It's not a question of money as much as you would think either. Belk, for example, even with the cutbacks it's made over the past several years, sells almost as expensive merchandise in certain departments at Eastland as it does at SouthPark. You may not know this, but no malls in truly 'poor' neighborhoods have department stores that carry high-dollar MAC Cosmetics as Belk Eastland does. Carolina Place, at last check, didn't even sell them.

A store like Target, for example, would be a great fit for the mall, but I doubt one is coming because it's a 'bad' (read: Black and Latino) neighborhood with 'high crime.' Last time I checked, people were being attacked less at the corner of Central & Sharon Amity than at the corner of Sharon & Fairview, a supposed 'good' neighborhood.

Marketers refuse to acknowledge that minority customers want anything but sneakers and baby clothes and as such their marketing efforts fail, making malls like Eastland seem like they're in worse shape than they actually are.

The answers are simple, but will take some work to achieve. Satisfy the customer. Acknowledge the Black and Latino communites in the mix of merchandise, but don't put in stores that portray ethnic stereotypes. Provide community spaces, jobs and activities so that you don't have youths standing around doing nothing every night. Install security that isn't as intrusive but still keeps things secure. It's not imposssible.

Pushing development to the fringes to get rid of 'urban' consumers, which is seemingly what Belk and Dillard's are planning, won't solve anything. If Eastland shuts down, all those 'bad and poor' poeple who shop there are going to go to the next closest mall, and the retrenchment from that mall and neighborhood will start. Unless you stop the cycle, it will continue unabated.

#14 StevenRocks

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 01:43 AM

Don't unholster those credit cards just yet. Seems the Mint Hill project could hit a potential environmental snag.

Rare mussel faces another threat

#15 monsoon

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 08:33 AM

Yeah this actually has been known for a while so it is interesting the Developer is moving ahead with the plans anyway. I will be very interested to see if they allow this development to proceed.

#16 DigitalSky

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 11:58 PM

http://www.charlotte...on/11625332.htm

this was in the paper 2 days ago

Are you interested in learning how far our region has come in working cooperatively to develop in sustainable ways? Do you want to see our streams protected from further degradation? Do you wonder if the Endangered Species Act is worth the paper it is written on?

And, is it possible for Mint Hill to plop a mall nearly the size of SouthPark right in the middle of the habitat of a creature on the verge of extinction?

and also this
an open letter from the stallings mayor
http://www.charlotte...on/11625174.htm

Edited by cantnot, 14 May 2005 - 12:08 AM.


#17 dubone

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 12:43 AM

it is hard to love a creature with no eyes, and a name that reminds people that other than eating it, the only other interaction with this creature is quite painful.

#18 StevenRocks

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 01:29 AM

I think that the Carolina heelsplitter mussel habitat is a goner. Welcome to sprawl.

#19 DigitalSky

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Posted 17 May 2005 - 02:12 PM

I think that the Carolina heelsplitter mussel habitat is a goner.  Welcome to sprawl.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I didn't realize how important this area was to the heelsplitter's habitat though until i saw this
Posted Image

#20 StevenRocks

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Posted 17 May 2005 - 11:19 PM

What's funny and sad is that if they move the development one exit over, they can protect the mussel and still have a mall. Oh well.




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