The announcement Wednesday that Wal-Mart will build a 155,000-square-foot supercenter on Independence to replace the Eastway Drive store could have far-reaching implications for nearby neighbors of both sites.
The new store between Eastway and Albemarle roads is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2011, according to The Charlotte Observer.
That sounds like ages away, but it’s not really. The Observer’s article notes that Wal-Mart first announced intentions to build on Independence four years ago, and it has taken four years to clear obstacles for that project.
So it’s not too early to ask questions about what will become of the old Eastway Wal-Mart site.
A creek runs behind the property, backing up to homes on Pinecrest and, down further, Carolyn Drive.
The registered property owner of 3042 Eastway Drive is Eastway I Holdings, according to county property records. (It’s possible those records indicate it’s Eastway 1 Holdings, with a numeral “one.”) The property was sold in January 2007 to the owner for $11 million.
A Google search on “Eastway I Holdings” turns up an Excel document that lists an address for the company of P.O. Box 36799, in ZIP code 28236.
Does the property owner have plans for when Wal-Mart leaves Eastway? Does the property owner have any legal responsibilities to keep the property from becoming a degrading big box? I believe I’ve heard of new rules in which commercial property owners face the same responsibilities that homeowners do to keep vacant buildings from becoming eyesores and hazards.
But could the move offer opportunities for redevelopment? Could a larger buffer be made near the creek? Could the parking-lot sea become more green? Could the building or parcel be redesigned to better accommodate local businesses? What kind of new tenants would serve nearby neighborhoods?
The post office in the Eastway Crossing Center is also up for review for closing, and a Department of Motor Vehicles office recently closed at the center. The Eastway Division of the Charlotte Police Department still has offices at the shopping center.
It’s not too early to ask questions and plan next steps, to avoid merely moving the Independence big-box blight to another neighborhood.