Thursday, March 08, 2007

Eastland Mall – The city allowed this mess

You watch. We, the taxpayers, are going to wind up shelling out to fix the mess left behind by elected officials who let developers rape East Charlotte.

This morning a panel from the nonprofit Urban Land Institute presented its recommendations for what to do about Eastland Mall. Read tomorrow’s Observer for details. Here's the story from Friday's Charlotte Observer. The report is also on the city's web site.

The ULI panel is recommending a far-reaching redevelopment of almost the whole Eastland site. New name, new streets, scraping the site clean and starting afresh. It will be expensive and will likely require public investment in better infrastructure, and possibly other incentives. Without it, they said, East Charlotte will be in trouble.

If property values there tank, and crime rises, the whole city will be in trouble because East Charlotte is a huge chunk of territory.

Mayor Pat McCrory, who spoke at the presentation, was pointed but precise in his “corridors of crap” analysis. “We built pure crap in a lot of these corridors,” he said. He referred to the design of commercial buildings throughout East Charlotte, built in the 1960s and ’70s under what he rightly termed “lousy zoning,” and slack local ordinances that didn’t require sidewalks, trees, parks or much of anything.

Here’s the underlying problem. For decades your elected officials – both city and county – just rolled over for developers. They took their money, in campaign donations, and let the developers have their way. Didn’t even need pimps.

The ULI panel found one reason Eastland Mall has been in such distress the past 10 years is a “dramatic oversupply of retailing in the area.” The number of retail square feet built (30 square feet per capita) is 50 percent more than the national average of 20 square feet per capita.

The panel found “obsolete, deteriorated” strip shopping centers. It found the public realm – that means streets, sidewalks, parks and public open space – “does not match consumer expectations.” It found that multiple big box stores allowed to be built in the area have taken away Eastland’s customer base.

The market in the area isn’t bad, they said. There’s just way, way too much retail space to serve it. And who approved all that excessive retail space? Your City Council. (In earlier years, the county commissioners approved stuff outside city limits, so they probably share blame.)

Whose zoning rules were so slack they allowed ugly strip shopping centers? Your City Council. Whose ordinances were so slack they didn’t require sidewalks or trees or open space? Your City Council and your county commissioners.

They were sweet-talked by developers and didn’t believe in putting onerous restrictions on the private sector – anywhere, not just in East Charlotte. Let the market sort it out, they said as they cavalierly over-zoned retail space in the University City area in 1993.

In 1999 the City Council approved a rezoning for Lowe’s and Target big box stores on Albemarle Road that the planners, the planning commission and neighborhood residents begged them to deny it, saying it would cause ugly sprawl and undermine Eastland Mall’s viability. Thanks to Patrick Cannon, Malachi Greene, Mike Jackson, Nasif Majeed, Don Reid and Lynn Wheeler, who voted for the rezoning, those predictions came true.

Now, 30 years after Eastland Mall opened, it’s clear somebody (mall developer Henry Faison tops the list, but it’s a long list) made a ton of money on the mall and the attending “crap” on Albemarle Road.

And if anyone ever has to clean up the mess elected officials allowed them to leave behind, it’s probably going to be all of the rest of us.


Anonymous said...

The crime rate in that area of Charlotte is out of control, to say the very least. What kind of city is this that lets the criminals destroy a shopping center to the point of tearing it down; and then have a corporate entity think that tearing down the mall and building "mixed retail/housing" will cure the problem. What planet are these people from? Until the City of Charlotte gets the extremely high crime rate under control, you can forget about improving "East" Charlotte. One who once lived in that area & left due to crime.

Anonymous said...

The city of Charlotte was doing nothing any different than any other city in the 60's and 70's when they began building retail following the housing in a car cultured society. Quit laying blame on what was the norm 20-30 years ago. Where's the same outrage for Tryon Mall, Freedom Drive or Wilkenson Blvd.? Surely thiose areas wern't the 'bad part of town' forever. Where is the outrage of pushing all the residents of Earle Village, Fairview Homes and Piedmont Courts to the Section 8 apartments on Albemarle Rd (what were one decent apartments by the way). On Noooo, no outrage from Newsom there. Then she couldn't blame a stash or city council memebrs from ten years ago. Hey folks, all is not lost for eastland yet. We all knew this was coming, and it's still not too late to prevent it. let the market decide. With Plaza Midwood, Merry Oaks and countless other in town neighborhoods on the upswing, all hope cannot be lost for the Eastside just yet.

Randy said...

"If property values tank, and crime rises"??? Property values have tanked and crime continues to rise. Our City and County leaders have raped homeowners on the East side with obscenely high tax values - tax values that in NO WAY reflect the low current market prices.
What happened to the bond money we approved several years ago for the East side revitalization? Was it redirected to the high profile light rail corridor? Only a portion was used for Central Ave.
The only housing that will draw tenants on the east side is Section 8.
Watch out Pineville and Northlake - with Eastland gone, the riff-raff will be seeking other venues to terrorize.

roadpig said...

I lived off of Albermarle road 17 years ago and I could tell than that the area was tanking. Unfortunately I see the same negative influences (overdevelopement) in place in the North Lake area. Dvelopers do not care what they leave behind ,they are like locusts.

Anonymous said...

If you want to blame someone for the mess at Eastland then blame the human debris that has driven out good bsuiness suported bya broad range of Charlotteans, not just East Charlotte residents. Conversely, SouthPark has proposered at the same time Eastland has gone in the crapper. Just maybe, rather than blaming the same developers who have done great things in Charlotte, you should blame the thugs who now run Eastland and scare away honest, hard working, paying customers, relegating Eastland to damn near third world status. Maybe, just maybe, if Mayor McCheese and other civic leaers from the last 15 years were as concerned about making Charlotte a "liveable" city rather than a "World Class" city then we would not be responding to your blog.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so if we plant trees all the Eastland hoods will drop their weapons and join in a group hug? I thought that the usual complaint is that "poor black neighborhoods" are UNDERSERVED by retail because no one will invest there. Apparently East Charlotte received plenty of investment and now you place the blame on it. East Charlotte will continue to suck as long as law-abiding, tax paying citizens like refuse to GO NEAR IT because of the crappy people who haunt the area!

Jeremiah said...

The most bothersome part of this article, and many articles in the Observer, is that they're "your" city council or county commission, not "our" city council or county commission. It is "your" government, not "our" government. Interestingly, it is "we" the taxpayers. There are many problems in east Charlotte, and there is much blame to go around, but the problem belongs to everyone, Mary, yourself included. The post appears much more elitist than is necessary, and it is partly that elitism which has fueled the problems plaguing various parts of the area including east Charlotte. If this report focuses positive effort toward seeking and putting into place solutions for the problems plaguing the Eastland area, then it'll be money well-spent, and the benefits will be far-reaching and long-lasting.

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly so what if the tax payers have to fix it. The tax payers have to pay for all those lousy roads on the south side not to metnion the new arena and soon to be light rail. Is the true question I rather make sure those tax dollars go to my community. It is one of the oldest malls in the state something needed to happen.

Anonymous said...

As one of those "crappy people who haunt the area"
I can say there are a lot of us middle class working professional people (including those who are Caucasian, African American, Latino and Asian) who still live in the neighborhoods around Eastland and still TRY to shop for what we want there. Some of us like this area and its convenience to downtown. Some of us LIKE the international flavor along Central Avenue.
As for crime rates, maybe some of the commenters need to look at the real numbers from the police department. Parts of East Charlotte have a problem. The vast majority is right in line with the rest of the city, including the area around SouthPark.
Yes. The Mall has to be redone to have any kind of life and attract more people to the area. Yes. Those of us who live in East Charlotte would like to believe those pretty pictures from the presentation this morning. But you can probably stop worrying about your tax money being spent here. We've spent the last ten years in meetings with pretty pictures on the Eastland Area Plan, a proposed redevelopment of the old Penney's store, the transit corridors with high-tech light rail, and a streetcar that was going to be fast-tracked to re-energize East Charlotte -- all for nothing. Most of us will start believing these newest pretty pictures only after we see something happening.
We will have to see the City have the fortitude to pass the zoning regulations, re-zonings and downzonings that will be required. So far anytime a landowner protested a downzoning specified in the Eastland plan, the landowner has won.
And we will have to see the city create some way to assure that new multifamily developments will be owner-occupied instead of condos that become unmanaged apartment complexes owned by multiple absentee investors.
But oh well. We have more pretty pictures. We have to have something to dream about.

Rich said...

Crime. Crime. Crime. As someone who lives off Albemarle in East Charlotte, I hear gunshots almost every night. People who don't have to are not going to want to shop (or live) in this area until they can feel safe doing so. To be fair, there has been a bigger police presence recently, but the problem is bigger than sending a few cop cars. The community needs to take some pride in itself. If not, no amount of development is going to help. I'm getting out as soon as I can.

rebecca said...

"For decades your elected officials – both city and county – just rolled over for developers." And you think this plan is any different? EVERYTHING that McCrory does/endorses is about taking money from taxpayers and giving it to his rich cronies - PERIOD. (did you hear his not so thinly vieled threat to raise property taxes if the voters reject light rail???) The "new plan" will just put a shiny new facade up. Nothing will done to address the real problems of lack of opportunity, drugs and crime that plagues that side of town. And you can bet the taxpayers will put up the capital while the fat cats pocket the profit.

Adam said...

I think blaming Target and Lowe's for part of Eastland's demise is unfair. I live in Mint Hill and frequent the aforementioned big boxes. I've never found a 2x4 at Eastland Mall.

Sharon Forest Neighbor said...

Thank you for your blog! I am a NATIVE Charlottean who has lived all my 37 years here.

I grew up off Albemarle Rd, near Lawyers Rd. and can recall our area being steam rolled with crappy strip malls, apartments, convenience stores, and an extended stay motel. I grew up with cows and horses in our neighborhood. Our neighbors were powerless against development.

In addition to overabundance of retail, a major problem is the crappy "cracker box" homes and apartments that came with the building boom of the 80's.

This housing has lost value and been abandonned by owners to be scooped up by negligent landlords hoping to make a quick buck. Who lives in sub-standard housing? The poor. Once you get a concentration of poor, disenfranchised, uneducated people clustered in one area it will always go down the toilet. Crime is rampant around the mall area.

We must hold landowners accountable for their property and the people they lease to.

Stop flooding Sec. 8 housing to East Charlotte!!!

It took us over 1 year of fighting with Charlotte Housing Authority to get our Sec. 8/welfare neighbor kicked out. She was dealing drugs with over 20 cars a day coming to buy. It took 2 seperate FELONY arrests for drugs to finally get her out, despite their "Zero Tolerance" drug policy.

We tried to get the landlord to evict her, but he was getting $1100 for rent from the government(typical in our neighborhood is $800) and turned a blind eye.

It took organizing our neighborhood and taking hard action with code enforcement and neighborhood watch to turn our neighborhood around. The City will not rescue your neighborhood (although through Neighborhood Development they will teach you).

Speaking of big boxes, did you know the Eastway Wal-Mart will be closing once a new one is built on Independence at Albemarle Rd? The old Wal-Mart building will not be able to be used for grocery/retail, so expect another empty big box.

Anonymous said...

It's a craphole for sure. But so were parts of Dilworth and South End. Get the crime under control, finish the South Corridor, then attack the East with a vengance. Rezone and redevelope it all.
Street car, light rail,give it all to them. Property values go up. That means the city gets more tax money. At the same time it forces the riff raff out due to the higher cost of homes and rent.
Build low cost housing way out by the airport for the riff raff. That's land isn't worth crap anyway.

WIN/WIN for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Man, that's the truth. If ever there was a city prosituted to developers by politicians it's this one. On our way to NOT being like Atlanta, we've become like Detroit.

Militant Diva said...

There are actually more than a few excellent points being made here even if some of them are couched in angry rhetoric. As a homeowner on the East Side (Citiside) I, too, have seen/heard/read at least a half dozen plans for "revitalizing" the area. I've yet to see anything break ground. We cannot even get the park that no fewer than three county commissioners told us was allotted and planned for. Do not get me started on basic needs like street lights and crosswalks.

I'm only 30 and I clearly remember a time when Eastland was a weekend destination. It was ALWAYS a cultural mix but that didn't bother as many folks when you had major retailers, some sembelence of order and first rate offerings like a movie theater and the ice rink.

Now we have a convergence of perception and sad reality. I'm black and far from wealthy and even I have some shaky feelings going to Eastland, and that's just being honest. Of my last two visits one ended when I heard gunshots and another ended with a group of several guys BLOCKING me into my parking space as they openly smoked weed and did what I can only call sized me up for walking the hoe stroll. I ended up having to call security to get them to move.

That would be considered tantamount to a felony if it happened in South Charlotte. But the perception from law officials and mall management and the community is that black/brown/poor/working class people somehow deserve or ask for that level of "service".

But even with all of that niether am I happy with a mixed use development. Why? Because Charlotte's take on that is almost never organic or fair. It seems to always mean really ugly faux Spanish behemoths like the one at the Promenade in University, poor street and parking design and overpriced housing that moves out the very resident who fought for years to save the neighborhood.

I do think Eastland needs to shut down and cleaned out. We need to go after regionally owned management that gives a damn and seek out unique "niche" retailers that don't go toe to toe with the big guys. We may not be able to pull NOrdstroms or Belk but we can get chic dress shops and the type of restaurants and retail that grew organically in places like NoDa and Plaza Midwood.

With our ridiculously close proximity to uptown I cannot see the Eastside being written off. We have strengths to work with but, sadly, neither the political will or vision to make it happen. And THAT'S not a problem exclusive to our side of town.

Anonymous said...

Even worse than Albemarle and the mall, though is Independence between Albemarle and uptown. What should be a bustling thoroughfare is instead littered with empty buildings and strip malls. Every day, I travel this road with thousands of other people. Why this area sits vacant is beyond me. It's an eyesore.

Anonymous said...

To the last Anonymous: Thank you. That was well-stated, and I couldn't agree more.
-a neighbor

Anonymous said...

It's really a shame. When I lived on the east side, years and years ago, Eastland Mall was a showplace. It attracted thousands of shoppers and visitors, especially during the Christmas season. Then in the late seventies/early eighties, crime began making serious inroads (I was a victim of housebreaking/larceny several times). I finally got smart and moved away. Raze Eastland? Sure, why not? And frankly, the whole stretch of Central Avenue all the way to The Plaze could use a harder look, if you want to know where the crime's coming from. Think making the area "pretty" is going to solve the problem? Get real.

Nancy said...

If you think East Charlotte is all crime and blight, you have not spent much time in our neighborhoods. We have safe, beautiful close-knit neighborhoods where we and our children feel safe and secure. True, the City engaged in some poor zoning decisions resulting in an over-supply of cheap retail and multi-family projects, and there is inadequate green space and infrastructure. But we also have THE MOST politically active grassroots citizens over here who love and fight for our neighborhoods. Please do not judge the neighborhood by what you see on the corridors. Most of what we are facing can be solved by one thing: CODE ENFORCEMENT CODE ENFORCEMENT

Anonymous said...

Right On! Charlotte should encourage as much mix use zoning as possible. Look at Northlake Mall and what a mess that is making of North Charlotte. Why isn't that project directly combined with housing or office buildings so that the office parks in the area can have lunch, shop, or whatever without having to put thousands of more cars on Harris Blvd. WAKE UP CHARLOTTE. OUR FUTURE QUALITY OF LIFE IS AT STAKE with slack city planning ordnances!

Anonymous said...

On the County side one name stands out, Parks Helms is still around!!! Lets hold HIM accountable and remove him from office.

Anonymous said...

Its time to graze EASTLAND MALL; Income level sinking in that area making it difficult for any store to survive anyway. Another problem with EASTLAND its outdated look and People in that area need jobs not to be spending on merchandise. Another eyesore is that GHOST town MALL right after 277 on 74 on the WEST side. WHAT the HELL is that , why , if I was a business traveler trying to root here that would look like things are going bankrupt here.

Frank Burns said...

My initial feelings of the plan is excitement. Wow, someone does care about the eastside! It's time to accept the fact that market forces have made Eastland Mall obsolete. We need to recognize this fact and totally change the space to make something good out it. This could be the stimulus the eastside needs to transform itself.

Mary, you are right, the city council was rolled by the developers. But what has changed? The city council is still rolling over for the developers. It's time for eastside to become more assertive and demand action.

Nancy is right we do have good, strong neighborhoods in the eastside. But what we don't have is political clout like the banks and the developers.

Militant Diva we could use your militancy right now.

Anonymous said...

I regret the posters have too often been anonymous, when everything they have said is something other readers, neighbors and associates should know they feel strongly about. They are neighbors, but have lost an opportunity to learn the identity of their friends.

Best of luck in Eastland and area. I too once spent many enjoyable hours and dollars there and about.

Lewis Guignard

Uncle Dennis said...

Cudo's to Militant Diva and Nancy! I appreciate your concern and level headedness. Please turn your feelings into a community wide effort to take matters into your own hands and provide the support that will allow you to say "I'm mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore".

Sure zoning allowed that type of situation to develop, but zoning is more meant as a reflection of the times, and not a utopian ideal. Everyday when I walk down Graham Street with the sidewalk on the curb, and cars going by in excess of 40 mph only inches from me I wonder what zoning allowed that to happen!

When this "crap" was being built, where was the opposition? It is easy to look back now and condemn it.

It is interesting to see in the proposal that the only thing the consultant sees as positive is the new transportation hub! I believe the transportation hub, and the connection to an Uptown street car line will contribute to the increase of property values, and assist in rejuvinating this area.

The area suffered from neglect from nearby property owners, and a drain of concerned people who felt the need to follow the developers out to Matthews and their bonus rooms. Those people were replaced by people who do not take ownership for their surroundings, or, as Militant Diva suggests, allows children to be raised to be quasi-criminals.

The government cannot waive a wand, spend a bucket of money, and fix the problem, only time, neighborhood concerns, and private development will fix things.

Developers, from small corner shop to mall managers must be held accountable for the property they manage, and not allow the blame to fall back on government.


Anonymous said...

All you ever do is complain. Complain. Complain. Your column just disappointed me. Could you for ONCE instead of complaining about "evil developers" and "bad city council" perhaps provide some constructive criticism? All you do is COMPLAIN about developers, yet it will be a DEVELOPER who takes the risk and invests in the Eastland area. And you will no doubt complain instead of offering up constructive criticism.

The plan is a good one- something the area can support, with realistic numbers. How about THANKING the development community who took the time to put some thought into the plan and area and make something feasible? Thanking the mayor for at least taking steps to get the ball rolling.

And the neighborhoods around Eastland are not that bad. There are too many section 8ers, but still many, many excellent homeowners. Most of us do not shop the Eastland Mall.... but I know that the proposed mix would attract me to the new plan.

The funny part is the myths among the people making comments- the crime rate is down in that area and income levels are RISING, albeit slowly.

Mary, you are useless to the paper. Please learn to use some CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM instead of just whining about greedy developers and bad city government all the time. You are not helping anything improve via your column. You are as much a part of the problem as everyone you blame.

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous let a stop light go out on the south side you would think the president was coming through with all the helicopters landing in to fix it. LIke the other poster said the mall is old and need to be corrected and for those that dont like it hop on your light rail and grin.
People please pray at least once a day!

JAT said...

I really think that Providence High starting up helped pull the cultural focus of much of Matthews towards South Charlotte.

Andria said...
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Andria said...
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Andria said...

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Georges Santayana

"Malls are like bananas - You get some at one price and get rid of them at another. Some of them go bad. Those you throw out."
Hayward Whichard, Raleigh developer, from Deadmalls dot com. Google it: I can't the link to work right.

"Meanwhile, in suburban Atlanta, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Ram Development Group recently sold the 330,000-square-foot Plaza Fiesta Mall to Dallas’ Sarofim Realty Advisors for $55 million. Ram had spent about $5 million and seven years converting the property to a Latino theme that increased traffic and attracted anchor Marshall’s. “As the demographics of this area change,” said William Mathieu, a partner at brokerage firm Powell Goldstein, who helped broker the deal, “more projects of this kind will probably be built.”
From this place.

My first two jobs were selling books and popping popcorn at the mall now called Plaza Fiesta. It's in ZIP code 30345. Compare its demographics to ZIP code 28212.

Live Malls
Big Box Reuse

Anonymous said...

Everyone should read the posts above by "sharon forest neighbor" and "militant diva".

With all the rhetoric and nonsense on this blog, it's valuable to get an idea what the life and history of the east side are REALLY about. Maybe something will actually change if we can get more voices like those to speak up.

Anonymous said...

Here is the problem, Mary.

Developers are greedy capitalist.

Unfortunately, municipal govt from coast to coast are morons.

Take you pick.

I'll take the greedy capitalists. At least they have some stake in the outcome.

McCrory, Syfert, Tober, Helms, you name it, are just a bunch of two-but a$$ clowns.

In the words of the late great Ronald Reagan, 'government is NOT the solution, government is the PROBLEM.'

The more GovCo gets invovled, the worse it will get for Charlotte.

South Blvd will look just like Independance in 5 years. Empty buildings, and streets clogged with commuters trying to get the hell out of there as fast as possible. And there will be graffiti all over the trains.

But those developers will have gotten rich too.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

In this case government (Charlotte) should supply only its core functions: police, fire and roads.

With safety in homes and on the streets, people will be able to make the area a nice neighborhood. Unfortunately, like some many other things government does, police are allocated based on political power not need. Consider if the shoppers at Southpark complained of needing more police in their neighborhoods.

To use Patrick Cannon as an example. When his car was stolen with handgun left inside, 5 police cars showed up immediately. At the time he was a city councilman. Anyone care to make comparisons with the responses in the Eastland Mall area?

This is the help you can expect from government. If it helps the right people response will be quick, if not - NOT.

Lewis Guignard

rick said...

Eastland should go.

Everyone here seems to agree on that, but some of the proposed solutions - including our illustrious Mayor's - do not address the problem. The problem IS crime and criminals and too much poorly managed Section 8 housing.

That is not meant as a slap towards the area or the vast majority of the area's population who are law abiding citizens. It is just the reality.

Also, it just doesn't matter that there are some nice, close knit neighborhoods around Eastland. They are being brought down by their proximity to some not-so-nice neighborhoods populated by some not-so-nice people.

Transforming Eastland into something new by proposing light rail and it's attendant gentrification doesn't solve the problem either. The criminals and the poor would just move somewhere else. The ones hurt the most would be the working poor who end up living in a worse neighborhood. Why do they deserve that just so you can say "see this pretty choo-choo train we built?"

Many of our area's problems are related to crime and poverty, not just the Eastland area. The truly sad part is that our government can't, won't, or is too scared to make hard decisions. It would be easy to do if someone had the spine.

- Limit Section 8 housing in various ways. The best way would be to have absentee landlords be responsible for the crimes of their tenants in some way - forfeiture of the property or punitive fines. Enforce this a few time, and the problem would begin to disappear.

- Pass laws strictly limiting the number of unrelated people living in the same household. This hits directly at the illegal immigration problem. Nothing good can come of 20 men living in a house built for 5 people. If you are going to UNCC or some other college, there could be an exception to this ordinance.

- CMS's achievement problem could be solved in 2 years. No teachers need to be moved, fewer fired, and crazy assignment plans could disappear. Here's how. Quadruple the size of Derita Alternative School, build four more just like that one, and then fill all 5 of them with the known gang members, anyone convicted of anything, and other general trouble makers. There are 1900 known gang members in Charlotte and up 6000-8000 more estimated unknown members. Most are under 21 and possibly in our schools. If you are in high school, a trip to Derita should automatically be a "life sentence" - meaning you never go back to the regular system. High school is only 4 years. Nobody gets reformed in that short amount of time, so let's not pretend they do. I recognize that this would have a disproportionate impact on the African American and Hispanic communities because most gang members come from those groups, but there would also be a disproportionate positive impact on the schools where those gang members are removed and minority populations are highest.

- The gang problem. The gangs must be broken, and the Gang of One prevention program isn't going to cut it. Pass a city ordinance that makes throwing gang signs and wearing gang colors a crime - inciting violence or something. If a known gang member is seen on the street, that alone should be probable cause for the police to stop him. When known gang members are arrested, they should not get parole for 72 hours. During that time they would be cleaning up the neighborhoods they terrorize in bright orange jumpsuits and shackles. Being a gang member would no longer be “cool.” The long-term victims of gangs are the gang members themselves. Most gang related crime victims will move on with their lives, but by the time the gang members realize they’ve ruined theirs, it is too late. Gangs must be crushed, and there is no nice way to do that.

Any politicians up for that kind of action? Doubtful.

Anonymous said...

You are right on the money on this one Rick.

Uncle Dennis said...

Rick, I hate to think of what the ACLU would have to say about your suggestions.

Gang activity is more a symptom of a problem than the problem itself. Joining a gang is a way for someone to feel important, something that many of todays youth seldom feel.

I do not have an answer to it. It would be easy to say they should be raised better, or attend church, or be more family oriented, etc. It is a problem that has existed forever.

There is no govco magic wand that can be waved to cure this, and we cannot look to the government to develope one.


Cato said...


I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, but the issue at hand is NOT that sullen teenagers feel unimportant and thus join gangs (it probably has more to do with the decline of fatherhood in gang-prone populations, but that's beyond the scope of this thread). The problem is that once they do join gangs, they behave in ways that make life a living hell for the people unfortunate enough to have to live around them. Gang activity may be a "symptom" of an underlying problem. But, like the flu, it's not the cause, but the symptoms that make it unpleasant and require treatment.

Rick's recommendations for those arrested would involve some constitutional issues, but I'd wholeheartedly support his recommendations for CMS. While it's true that the people sent to an expanded Derita would likely be poor and minority, the kids who would disproportionately benefit from their removal would be as well. In this, Rick's absolutely right.

I admire the ambition of the proposed plan, but I'm pessimistic about the possibilities for a turnaround in east Charlotte, at least as the result of any government action. Too many people will have to question too many dearly-held beliefs (about the poor, about schools, about immigration, and about "diversity") for it to happen. I'm afraid the problem goes beyond parks, sidewalks and rail travel.

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell

rick said...


Being sued by the ACLU should be worn as a badge of honor by any self respecting mayor protecting his or her citizens.

It proves you are doing your job when the chief defenders of murderers, rapists, and molesters doesn't like what you are doing.

Any elected official should be perfectly happy being on the opposite side of the fence from them.

Anonymous said...

Actually not all of Ricks solutions would involve constitutional issues. Further, if the pressure was put on immediately, and CMS became serious about trouble makers, before the issue could reach a high enough court the problem would have been addressed.

But the attitude of CMS and the leaders there, are much like those of the police. The problem will only be addressed if the right people make enough noise.

The Derita Neighborhood Association learned to be politically noisy enough to make a difference. This neighborhood, and others will also, if they wish to survive.

If anyone is interested send an email to and ask for information.


Anonymous said...

Watch out, Northlake mall is next. I have tried 5 times to enjoy that place and it's impossible. The same element is creeping in just as they did at Eastland.
It's the fault of the mall owners. Post no loitering signs and inforce it. The last time I was there the teenagers hanging outside by the movies were so loud and obnoxious that I could hear them while I was inside watching the movie. It's rediculous, just as it is anywhere in Charlotte. We do not have loitering laws and therefore the police do nothing.

Anonymous said...

The coup de grace was and continues to be the building of multi-family rental housing and tract starter homes and the dominance of renters in this area of Charlotte. Zoning, planning and city council has built the new "West Charlotte" in east Charlotte. It is past the tipping point. Fixing the stupidity will cost the taxpayer millions and take years. Today's planning and zoning will be tomorrow's "pure crap" and the bill will go to the poor, dumb taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

So the previous poster is telling us we should build nothing but over priced McMansions and expensive condos instead of starter homes and apartments? sorry guys, but we need a variety of housing for all income levels. Ideally, these types of places (as well as section 8) would be mixed around all over the city instead of relegated to certain corners of town, but no developer or councilman has the guts to take on the NIMBY's who would vehimnetly oppose such proposals. That and csome law enforcement with some teeth would solve lots of these problems.

Anonymous said...

You got it ace! Either it is concentrated multi-family for rental or it's McMansions. Nothing in between for nuance-impaired folk. And you know, those castles are filled with evil people who have MONEY!. Ruins the scenic beauty and law-abiding character of the neighborhood, you know? And the binary thinker says we need housing for all incomes. Got a lot of McMansions in East Charlotte I haven't seen? Look at the census stats. No "diverse" mixture, check the numbers, if a few facts don't frighten you off your prejudices.
And since you say "no developer or councilman has the guts to take on the NIMBY's who would vehimnetly [spell much?] oppose such proposals", just ante up your address and let's shove a few thousand 800 sq. ft. rental apartments in your backyard. Then you say "law enforcement with some teeth would solve lots of these problems". They are taking applications. Sign right up.

Anonymous said...

You know, I live in the Merry Oaks neighborhood and with the outstanding behavior demonstrated by the thugs with no parental control shooting up Eastland Mall this past holiday season, hell would have to freeze over before I even think about shopping there. I'll pack a lunch and go shopping at SouthPark or NorthLake before I step foot inside Eastland.

Anonymous said...

If you think the new bus stop helped the eastland mall area problem,well think again,It made the problem alot worse,Most of the gang bangers and criminals are rideing the bus to the mall from west charlotte,The mayor wanted to get them from hanging around the bus stop down town so there was a direct line from west charlotte to eastland mall.If you don't belive this then stand back and watch who gets off the busses at eastland mall ,It's not mothers and children -It's low life.
Calli Davis

Allison said...

I've lived on the East Side most of my life and watched it crumble over the last twenty-five years. I;ve been a victim of crime numerous times, in a neighborhood where I once left my front door unlocked and could sleep with the windows open. It's heartbreaking.

As far as the overabundance of retail goes, I think we can amend that to "worthless retail". The neighboorhood attracts downscale residents with downscale fare. I have to drive at least ten minutes to get to a coffeehouse, a gourmet restaurant or a store that carries quality specialty foods. There are no boutiques,not even any decent mid-priced specialty shops. Improving retail and service in the Eastland area doesn't mean make it into another SouthPark and price out all but the wealthiest of the upper class. But Charlotte assumes that all people who make less than 40k a year are eating Spam and wearing gunny sacks. THere is a mindset that here you are either super rich and have great taste for luxury or you are too poor to have regard for anything elegant or of quality. If all you offer out are crumbs and trash all you'll attract are rats and cockroaches.

Anonymous said...

It took Eastland a few years to go from THE mall to what is is now. Northlake was intended to be North Charlotte's SouthPark. It is a very pretty mall with nice stores like Anthropologie who dont sell cheap. Sadly within a very short time period after it opened there are lots of ghetto thugs running around. Charlotte has a violence problem out of control. Since it's new peole still go but i can also tell it's going down fast.

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