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5 Things to Know: David Tepper Backs Out of Eastland Deal

...and four more stories from July 17-23, 2022

David Tepper has pulled out of all plans to be a part of redeveloping the former Eastland Mall site. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

David Tepper Backs Out of Eastland Deal

Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC owner David Tepper has canceled what remained of his original plans to anchor the redevelopment of the former Eastland Mall site in east Charlotte, confirming to Axios Charlotte on Wednesday that his company, Tepper Sports & Entertainment (TSE), no longer plans to build practice facilities for the Charlotte FC development academy. 

When developer Crosland Southeast filed its rezoning petition in January 2020, TSE had planned to build Charlotte FC’s headquarters alongside the academy facilities, making up about a third of the planned redevelopment, according to the Charlotte Observer. While David Tepper pulled out of plans for the Charlotte FC HQ later that year, he had still planned to keep a presence with about 22 acres planned for the academy facilities.

As of Wednesday, however, Tepper was out of the deal completely, and city officials seemed blind-sided by the announcement. 

“I woke up to many distressed texts from residents about TSE pulling out of Eastland,” tweeted Dimple Ajmera, at-large Charlotte City Council rep who once represented District 5 where the Eastland site is located. “I assure residents that [the city of Charlotte] remains committed to building a catalyst that aligns with residents’ goals. We are already pursuing development opportunities for this portion so stay tuned.”

Ajmera confirmed that a groundbreaking for the redevelopment — which will include retail, restaurants and housing — is still scheduled for Aug. 3. It is unclear what will take the space planned for Charlotte FC’s academy.

There was talk at a recent Charlotte City Council meeting about allowing open-air market vendors who had been displaced from the site to return in the short term, but WSOC’s Joe Bruno reported on Thursday that an infrastructure overhaul at the site will make that impossible. 

Soul Gastrolounge to Close in Plaza Midwood

Ownership at popular Plaza Midwood staple Soul Gastrolounge announced this week that the restaurant will close its doors for good on Aug. 14, becoming the latest eatery in the neighborhood to be forced to close or relocate due to rising rent costs and redevelopment. According to a Thursday press release, Soul’s owners would have had to pay a 114% rent increase to stay at the location on the corner of Central and Pecan avenues. 

Managing partners Andy and Lesa Kastanas are working to relocate and reopen Soul and Tattoo Lounge, an adjoining cocktail lounge that opened in 2019, and hope to do so by spring of next year. Sister, an all-day cafe located below Soul — the third component of Kastanas’ Korner, a name we just coined two days too late — announced in a post last week it will close at the end of the month.

Soul Gastrolounge will close on Aug. 14. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

As pointed out in the release, the restaurant joins a long list of businesses that helped build Plaza Midwood into a popular destination only to be priced or pushed out in recent years. Those businesses include The Penguin, Boris + Natasha, Stash Pad, Elizabeth Billiards, Book Buyers, Reggae Central, Sammie’s Deli, Roasting Company, No Grease Barber Shop, Dairy Queen and Tommy’s Pub

“It’s never easy to close a business,” Andy stated in the release. “It’s emotionally and financially devastating, especially on the heels of the pandemic that our industry has hardly begun to recover from. Our staff are losing jobs and security. That level of stress can’t be understated.”

Family of Man Shot and Killed by Police Call for Justice

The family of Jason Lipscomb, a 21-year-old man shot and killed by police officers this week, are calling for justice, insisting there was no reason to shoot him during the incident that occurred outside of a home in Gastonia on Wednesday afternoon. 

Police say they were responding to a “kidnapping” call after Lipscomb picked up two children from a daycare center despite not having authorization to do so. Family members point out, however, that he knew the children well and had already invited their guardians to come pick them up when police arrived.

It was then that deputies with the Gastonia County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) arrived outside the home and confronted Lipscomb. The children were already in the home safe and unhurt. Surveillance video of the incident shows Lipscomb get into a car and attempt to flee the scene as deputies close in. The car appears to strike at least two officers as it backs out of its parking spot, at which time police open fire, firing well over a dozen shots. 

Protesters have been gathering outside of the Gaston County Courthouse regularly since the killing to call for more transparency from the GCSO. The State Bureau of Investigation will investigate the incident.

Animal Care & Control in ‘Capacity Crisis’

A spokesperson with CMPD’s Animal Care & Control (AC&C) put out a release this week pleading for community help as its shelter is in a “capacity crisis.” The shelter is beyond full and experiencing an outbreak of feline panleukopenia among the cats there, according to Melissa Knicely with AC&C. Knicely said there is a shortage of dog kennels for incoming stray or lost dogs and stated that summer is a time when the shelter sees the highest intake of such dogs. 

“We have been sending out adoption and foster pleas since last fall, as we have not had room for the number of dogs entering the shelter. It’s heartbreaking, a huge emotional toll on the staff and volunteers and of course the animals, which are our biggest concern,” Knicely wrote.

As of Friday, there were 153 dogs and 24 puppies in the AC&C shelter. (Photo courtesy of AC&C)

Knicely also emphasized that a capacity crisis does not only refer to the capacity to take in more dogs, but the capacity to care for them. 

Caitlin Martin, a volunteer at the AC&C shelter, addressed Charlotte City Council during a public forum on July 11, calling for an increase in funding for the shelter, which has been over capacity for months. Martin got emotional while describing the conditions at the overcrowded shelter, stating that AC&C cannot turn away animals even if at capacity, though the shelter has recently suspended intake of cats and kittens due to the outbreak.

Martin said when the shelter is at or above capacity, dogs may get outside only once every three days for 15 minutes.

An outbreak of feline panleukopenia has stricken the shelter. (Photo courtesy of AC&C)

According to Wednesday’s release, recent social media reports that AC&C is euthanizing “dozens of dogs every day” are untrue, though some animals are being euthanized, including any cat that tests positive for feline panleukopenia. 

“We have had to make euthanasia decisions on some dogs due to capacity for care reasons, which does take kennel space into consideration as well as behavior,” Knicely wrote. 

She asked that anyone interested in fostering, adopting, donating to or volunteering at the shelter visit the AC&C website.

Four Killings in Charlotte This Week

Four people were murdered in Charlotte this week, beginning with two shooting deaths that occurred just hours into the week. Just before 1 a.m. on Sunday, police responded to a shooting call on East Independence Boulevard near Village Lake Drive, where they found 29-year-old Montereo Adams suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Medic transported Adams to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Adams had turned 29 on the previous day. 

Shortly after 3 a.m. on the same morning, police responded to a shooting call at the McAlway Manor Condominiums in southeast Charlotte and found 23-year-old Johnny Green inside an apartment suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No arrests were made at the time of this writing but police announced they were not searching for any outstanding suspects.

Just before 2 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to a shooting call on Reid Avenue in the Reid Park neighborhood of west Charlotte, where they found 49-year-old Gary Randolph dead from a gunshot wound. Detectives later arrested a 35-year-old man whom they charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. 

Shortly after 5 a.m. on Friday, police responded to a shooting call in the Sharon Pointe Apartment Homes in northeast Charlotte, where they found two victims with gunshot wounds. Medic transported both to the hospital, where 22-year-old Markus Petty was pronounced dead.

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