Charlotte alderman agrees to find flea market location

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Central Flea Market vendors hold signs for the Charlotte City Council during a meeting Monday, July 11, 2022.

Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari pledged Monday to find a new location for the former Central Outdoor Flea Market that once stood on the site of the old Eastland Mall.

The flea market closed in February after a lease agreement between the market operator and the city expired. The city, which owns the land, also cited food trucks selling food without a proper license on the market property.

Bokhari has pledged to find a location within the next 60 days.

Sellers and family members spoke to Monday evening city council urging the council to find a solution.

“It wasn’t just the way they closed the flea market without at least giving us the opportunity to sell for that week,” said Jorge Castaneda, a fruit vendor, holding up his overdue credit card bills. .

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Fruit seller Jorge Castaneda has overdue credit card bills which he says are due to the closure of the central flea market. Jeremy Mills, City of Charlotte

Several board members responded, but Bokhari pledged to find a solution and said he was already working with staff on a plan.

“Jorge can’t wait any longer. You don’t need more talk, you need action, and it’s not going to happen around this stage,” Bokhari said. “We will spend the next 60 days fixing this issue.”

Deputy City Manager Brent Cagle said city staff are working to find a new site for the land and are ready to help vendors financially restore their businesses.

“We’ve found sites but none of them are ideal,” Cagle told the council Monday night. “Most sites are too small to accommodate the number of sellers in one place like Eastland has.”

Cagle said the city is looking for a site of at least one acre, but vendors say they need at least 5 acres, which poses a bigger challenge for the city.

Bokhari told The Charlotte Observer he was meeting with an East Side landlord and the Simmons YMCA to determine potential spaces to move the flea market. He plans to weigh the “realistic side” of what suppliers want with “what’s acceptable to get them back to work”. He said he will also look at options that could expand the reach of the flea market.

Charlotte purchased the vacant 80-acre Eastland property, once a bustling shopping mall with an iconic indoor ice rink, in 2012. In 2020, the city council unanimously approved a rezoning petition from developer Crosland Southeast for transform the site into a mixed-use centre. , with 1,050 homes, shops, restaurants, offices and a 2-acre public park.

This story was originally published July 11, 2022 9:31 p.m.

Genna Contino covers local government for the Observer, where she informs and serves people living in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. She attended the University of South Carolina and grew up in Rock Hill.

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