City Officials Discuss Eastland Mall Rezoning
City officials and others involved with redeveloping the former Eastland Mall site held a virtual question-and-answer session on Facebook Live and YouTube on Wednesday. Developers gave some details about how the site will be separated into two zoning districts, allowing for a variety of uses including office space, residential, parks and a soccer facility that will serve as the headquarters for Charlotte’s new Major League Soccer team.
Details about what specifically will go around that facility are not yet available, as planning is still in the early stages, though developers did give some insight into what won’t be allowed to remain at the site. Assistant city manager Tracy Dodson stated that a DIY skate park that has been built up at the old Eastland Mall site over years will need to be removed.
In a Queen City Nerve cover story published in March, skaters who have made the spot their own in recent years and invested much time and money into it called on the city to include their park in development plans or give them space to build a new one. Later in Wednesday’s meeting, Tim Sittema, managing partner at Crosland Southeast, the lead developer on the project, said he’s open to meeting with the skate park’s organizers to “gauge what’s possible.”
According to Dodson, the open air market that has become a staple of the old Eastland Mall site over the years will also need to shut down, as it won’t be safe to operate during construction. The transit center at the site is expected to stay and will be built around. A public forum about the rezoning at Eastland is scheduled for Monday during the city council meeting.
Listen to our episode of Nooze Hounds with two organizers behind the DIY skate park here.
White House Report Names Charlotte as ‘Place to Watch’ for COVID-19 Spike
An unreleased White House report published by NBC News this week lists the Charlotte area as one of 10 locations to watch for a large spike in COVID-19 cases as the governor rolls out a three-phase plan to reopen the state. The May 7 report references a 250% spike in the first week of May as compared to the week before.
The county has stated that cases continue to decrease and that things are improving. The most recent data shows an increase in reported cases, but a decrease in the percentage of tests that come back positive, meaning that the increase is due to an increase in testing, not necessarily any new outbreaks.
A University of Washington report used by the White House projects a remarkable spike in North Carolina, from 500 deaths by Aug. 4 to 4,400, the largest jump of any state in the model. It does not give specific reasons for the spike in North Carolina, though it references reopening efforts. However, North Carolina’s reopening has been more mild than other states in the region such as Georgia and Florida.
As for local projections, the county announced this week it has stopped using the University of Pennsylvania CHIME model that has helped officials predict peak times in the county over the last two months. “We have used models throughout this crisis and will continue to use them for projections based on available data,” stated Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg County Public Health director. “However, models are only as good as the data available, and as we’ve seen across the world, they change almost daily. And while projections are important, we are focused on what’s happening here and our recent trends.”
Burr Steps Down from Chairman Role After Warrant Served
Sen. Richard Burr temporarily stepped down from his role as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday as the investigation into allegations that he used intelligence from that role to carry out inside trading deals progressed.
On Wednesday, investigators seized Burr’s cellphone as part of the investigation, which stems from allegations that he sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock using nonpublic information about the oncoming coronavirus in February, even as he downplayed the risk of the virus in public.
Burr has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong and made his stock decisions based solely on publicly available knowledge. He said he stepped down as chairman only because the investigation was becoming a distraction, though he will remain on the committee.
Comunidad Colectiva Files FOIA Suit Against ICE
On Wednesday, Charlotte-based immigrant advocacy organization Comunidad Colectiva filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for refusing to release information regarding its surveillance of the organization and its members.
Comunidad Colectiva was created in response to the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the 2016 presidential election and the xenophobic policies of the Trump administration, according to its website.
“Through this complaint, we want to let ICE know that we will not be intimidated by their fearmongering tactics. Everyone has the right to confront injustice, especially if it is at the hands of state actors who must be held accountable,” said Stefania Arteaga, co-founder of Comunidad Colectiva, in a press release.
Woman Found Dead in Apartment
Police responding to a check-the-welfare call in an apartment on Hoskins Mill Lane in northwest Charlotte found 39-year-old Cashona Tate dead inside the apartment. Tate would have turned 40 tomorrow. It is unclear how Tate died, but her death is being investigated as a homicide, the 34th murder in Charlotte this year.
UPDATE: On Saturday afternoon, police announced the 35th homicide of the year. Police responded to an attempted suicide call on Viceregal Court just after 9:30 p.m. on Friday. They pronounced 65-year-old Paul Balshem dead at the scene. According to a CMPD release from Saturday, “The initial investigation has revealed that the victim was murdered and did not commit suicide. It has been determined that the victim was stabbed multiple times during the assault.” No arrests have yet been made.