Fla. developer seeks $18M for Bojangles’ remake

sharrison@charlotteobserver.comDecember 9, 2013 

After seeking interest from developers to remake the Bojangles’ Coliseum area into an amateur sports complex, the city of Charlotte has received one proposal, from a Florida company, GoodSports Enterprises Global LLC.

GoodSports outlined a plan to spend $72 million to build a 150-room hotel, a 100,000-square-foot “field house” for indoor sports and 50,000 square feet of retail.

The Sarasota, Fla.-developer has asked the city to cover 25 percent of the construction cost, which is $18 million.

On Monday, staff members gave the City Council an outline of the proposal, which has been referred to the council’s economic development committee.

The city and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority have proposed remaking the Bojangles’ Coliseum area into a home for youth sports, such as basketball and volleyball. The hope is the complex will remake the area, which has struggled as the east side has lost affluent residents over the last 20 years.

It’s unknown whether council members will endorse the plan.

But the money to subsidize the complex already exists. The city’s $816 million Capital Improvement Program, which passed in June, includes $25 million to remake Bojangles’ Coliseum.

The city’s original idea was to focus on renovating the arena itself. Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble envisioned raising the floor of the iconic arena, which would increase floor space to allow multiple games to be played at one time.

But the GoodSports proposal would create an entirely new building, where a parking lot exists that is shared by Bojangles’ Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium.

Brad Richardson, the city’s economic development director, said the city sent requests for proposals in October to about four developers. The city also advertised the proposal in a trade publication.

Republican Ed Driggs, who represents District 7, said he was uneasy the city had only one interested developer.

Democrat Claire Fallon, an at-large member, asked whether the city would be able to recoup its investment. If amateur sports is so lucrative, Fallon asked, “I don’t see why we couldn’t have some of the $25 million returned to us.”

Richardson said the city could recoup its investment through new property taxes as well as from the economic activity from families coming to Charlotte for tournaments.

An agreement with GoodSports would probably go through several iterations. But the deal as currently outlined would call for the city to give the developer an up-front grant, rather than a property tax rebate, which is the city’s current practice for subsidizing development.

In addition to the coliseum, council members are also scheduled next year to decide the fate of another east Charlotte project when they look at whether to subsidize movie studios, retail and residential development on the site of the old Eastland Mall.

Harrison: 704-358-5160

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