Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Alas...

When I first moved to Charlotte NC the most popular shopping center in town was Eastland Mall. It was a really nice mall. It had solid anchors: Sears, Belks, Iveys (later Dillards) and J.C. Penny's. It had an ice skating rink in the center of the mall that was in an atrium setting. Often, strolling the mall, I'd stand on the overlooking decks and watch ice skaters. Later, when I was a young father, I'd take my little boy there to go ice skating.

Eventually the mall just started to go downhill. One reason for this was that gangs of rowdy kids started hanging out there and the mall management didn't know how to handle the situation and so just let it ride. After a while the families who spent the money stopped going to the mall because of the constant threat of crime. After years and years of this, most of the anchor tenants started pulling out, sub-letting their spaces to discount stores or just allowing them to sit vacant. The last of the supporting big-box retailers to give up the ghost was Sears. When Sears leaves, you know there are no more nails to bang into the pine box.

A few months ago they closed up the mall for good. What the new owners (they bought the whole she-bang for $2million) are going to do with it is anybody's guess. If you look at old plats of the property, you can see that before they covered it over, there was a substantial stream running through what was once a hilly woodland. There would be some justice in seeing it all demolished and the land being restored to something akin to its former rural state. Fat chance.

At any rate, I rolled by it and cruised through the parking lot taking some photos. It was sad, considering the nice memories I had of the place when it was alive and kicking. I think I did most of my Christmas shopping there for about fifteen years. Alas...

From near Central Avenue toward the far end of the parking lot at the former main entrance. In the day, this parking lot would be packed on a good weekend. Forget about finding parking in December.

One of the side entrances. Eastland had a cool logo.

This was the back section of the old Sears location. The automotive department was here, and the hardware section was to the left. I spent some bucks in that store.

This is the elevated parking deck. Straight down this way was another mall entrance that was popular because the multi-screen cinema was just to the left as you went in. Goodbye to all that.

Old Belks
And this was the main entrance to Belks that my wife liked to use. They were one of the first to see the handwriting on the wall and get the hell out of Dodge.

6 comments:

Eric said...

Sad. Eastland was the home of the first Comic Con I ever went to and the only reason I ever went to Charlotte. Starting with those small comics shows was the main reason I even went to CPCC or met you Bob! Truly sad.

HemlockMan said...

Yeah, I hated to see it go. However, the crime there had gotten so extremely bad that it had been many years since I had dared to set foot in the place.

GULAHIYI said...

I remember when Eastland was brand new. Actually, I remember when Independence Blvd was more or less the edge of town as I would drive in from Albemarle. I wonder if the Charlottetown Mall is still there. I even remember when it was new. Seems to me they buried a time capsule there in 1961. I'd like to know what ever became of that!

HemlockMan said...

Charlottetown is also gone. It was still a nice place to go when I first came to Charlotte, but was in decline. Then they turned it into an outlet mall and it still did okay. Then it died a slow and lingering death. And they tore it down.

GULAHIYI said...

Eastland had an Intimate Bookshop that I really enjoyed. Nowadays, that name might suggest "adult" books but it was a fine all-around bookstore, as was the original Intimate on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, owned by Charles Kuralt's brother. For all I know, the Chapel Hill shop is also long gone.

HemlockMan said...

I think they're all gone, but I couldn't say, for sure. There was one in a shopping center in northern Mecklenburg County for a while after the Eastland location shut down. But it, too, bit the dust. It's hard for an indie shop to compete with the book superstores.