News & OpinionWeekly News Roundup

5 Things to Know: Apple Store Leaves Northlake Mall Abruptly

...and four more stories from Feb. 26 - March 4, 2023

An Apple logo on the clear windows of an Apple Store
Apple announced that it would immediately close its Northlake Mall Apple Store location on the day following the most recent shooting at the mall. (AdobeStock)

Apple Store Announces Abrupt Closure of Northlake Location

News that Apple will close its Northlake Apple Store location broke on Wednesday night, spurring speculation on social media regarding the reason for the abrupt closure as well as where Apple will open a new store.

The announcement came just a day after the mall saw its third shooting in 75 days. Police responded to Northlake Mall on Tuesday night in response to a shooting call there. According to CMPD, the gunshots rang out following a fight that broke out outside of Macy’s department store. No one was injured in the shooting.

Apple made its announcement the next day, stating that the company was closing up shop effective that afternoon, insisting the announcement was not due to the shootings but “in preparation for a new store we plan to open in the Charlotte area as early as next year.” 

As reported by WSOC’s Joe Bruno, however, Apple had recently renewed its lease for the location, according to January court filings. 

A generic mall entrance, with signage atop that reads Northlake Mall
Northlake Mall has seen a troubling number of vacancies as of late, well before the Apple Store announced its closure. (Photo by Mike Kalasnik/Creative Commons)

With a vacancy rate more than double the regional average, Wednesday’s news sparked concerns that the mall, which opened in 2005, could go the way of Eastland Mall, which shut down in 2010 after a rise in crime led to a desertion of the mall by a number of tenants. 

“We stand hand-in-hand with our valued retailers in prioritizing the safety and well-being of Mall employees and the many shoppers who enjoy our retail experience, and will continue to ensure that anyone who enters the Mall can do so comfortably,” read a statement from Northlake Mall on Friday. “In the aftermath of these events, we are fully cooperating with the CMPD in their ongoing investigations and working closely with CMPD and other law enforcement and community leaders to ensure we are doing everything we can to support our employees and patrons — and to try to prevent this conduct from recurring.”


Local Organizations Respond to Medicaid Expansion Announcement

Leaders of the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives announced Thursday morning that they had reached an agreement on how to expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover hundreds of thousands of mostly low-income workers with health care.

On the heels of the announcement, several local, state and regional organizations released statements pointing out that the same Republicans who took credit for this milestone agreement had spent the last decade standing steadfastly against any such deal. 

“The Affordable Care Act included money for Medicaid expansion in 2014. And today, nine years later, Republicans in North Carolina finally decided to expand Medicaid,” said Kendra Cotton, executive director of the New Georgia Project and a member of the Black Southern Women’s Coalition.

“How many hospitals have closed because they lacked funding? How many people have lost their lives because they lived in states that didn’t expand Medicaid? How many people have suffered over Republican inaction, motivated by political posturing, indifference for the poor and disdain for those who hold opposing political viewpoints? Republicans deserve no credit. What they did today should have been done over nine years ago. They should be ashamed, but instead, hubris had them hold a press conference to tout this delayed action.”

Phil Berger stands at a podium speaking during a press conference, similar to the one he held Thursday regarding Medicaid expansion, while GOv. Roy Cooper and N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore look on.
Republicans such as Phil Berger (far right) announced a new Medicaid expansion plan on Thursday, but longtime program supporter Gov. Roy Cooper (middle) wants to speed up the process. (Pictured: NC legislative leaders speak during a COVID-19 press conference in 2020) (Photo courtesy of NC Department of Public Safety)

The North Carolina NAACP also released a statement in support of the bipartisan agreement, adding that, “for over 10 years, this issue has been a victim of partisan politics, leaving millions of North Carolinians without access to the health care they desperately need.

“Expanding Medicaid will be particularly beneficial for Black North Carolinians who have historically faced systemic barriers to accessing quality health care,” the NC NAACP statement continued. “Black North Carolinians are more likely to be uninsured than white North Carolinians, and they suffer from higher rates of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Expanding Medicaid will help to address these disparities and ensure that Black North Carolinians have access to the health care they need to lead healthy and productive lives.”


Board of Ed Lobbies for Education Bills

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education on Friday voiced its support for three new bills in the North Carolina General Assembly that it says will make the state more attractive to educators, easing the way for out-of-state teacher hires. 

A release put out on Friday pointed to three new bills filed in the N.C. Senate, stating that:

“These bills are good for education and good for North Carolina,” stated Stephanie Sneed, vice chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education and chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, in a release. “We need to recognize and reward longevity and advanced degrees. And we desperately need new teachers! Recognizing and accepting licensure credentials from out-of- state candidates will help us get the teachers our children need.”


Charlotte Receives Federal Grant to Study I-77 Impact on West End

The Charlotte Department of Transportation will be among the first recipients of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new Reconnecting Communities Pilot Grant Program. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced Tuesday that Charlotte will receive a $1-million planning grant to study the existing interchanges of Interstate 77 and adjacent land uses at West Fifth Street and West Trade Street.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Grant Program and to have the opportunity to build on previous planning studies aimed at addressing the disconnection of the West End from Uptown,” said Charlotte DOT director Debbie Smith in a release on Friday. “This study presents us with the opportunity to further our equitable mobility vision and remove barriers to access jobs and services, and to restore community connectivity.”

This planning effort will seek to address barriers to access for Charlotte’s West End, a historic Black community with significant ties to the Civil Rights Movement. The West End community was disconnected from Uptown by the construction of I-77 in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The goal of the effort is to improve access, including safe and equitable mobility choices, and connectivity to Uptown, while balancing the goals of the community and the needs of the facility, according to the release. 


Person Killed Following Attempted Police Traffic Stop

A suspect who tried to outrun police caused a crash that killed a passenger in an uninvolved car on Wednesday.

 

According to CMPD, the incident began at around 7:30 p.m., when officers attempted to stop a vehicle for displaying a fictitious tag. The driver of the car sped away, and the officers reportedly turned off their sirens and ended their pursuit, as CMPD policy restricts officers from taking part in high-speed pursuits of people not suspected of violent crimes.

The suspect, however, continued to drive recklessly and struck another car at the intersection of North Sharon Amity and Tarrywood Lane, about a half-mile from where police called off the pursuit. Medic treated two occupants in the vehicle that was struck, transporting one to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. That person died at around 8:17 p.m. The suspect fled the scene on foot and, at the time of this writing, has not yet been found. 


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