Charlotte councilman pledges to find Central Flea Market location

Vendors from the Central Flea Market hold signs for Charlotte City Council at a meeting Monday, July 11, 2022.

Vendors from the Central Flea Market hold signs for Charlotte City Council at a meeting Monday, July 11, 2022.

Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari committed Monday to finding a new location for the former open-air Central Flea Market once housed at the former Eastland Mall site.

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

Bokhari pledged to find a location in the next 60 days.

Vendors and family members spoke at Monday night’s council meeting, urging the council to find a solution.

“It was not fair the way they closed the flea market without giving us at least the opportunity to sell during that week,” said Jorge Castaneda, a fruit vendor, holding up his past-due credit card bills.

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Fruit vendor Jorge Castaneda holds up past due credit card bills that he claims are due to the Central Flea Market closing down. Jeremy Mills, City of Charlotte

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

“Jorge can’t wait anymore. You guys do not need more lip service, you need action, and it is not going to happen around this dais, ”Bokhari said. “We’re going to spend the next 60 days solving this.”

Assistant City Manager Brent Cagle said city staff have worked to find a new site for the land and are prepared to assist vendors financially to reestablish their businesses.

“We have found some sites but none of them are ideal,” Cagle told council Monday night. “Most of the sites are too small to accommodate the number of vendors in one spot like Eastland did.”

Cagle said the city is looking for a site that’s at least an acre, but vendors say they need at least 5 acres, presenting a greater challenge for the city.

Bokhari told The Charlotte Observer he’s meeting a property owner on the east side and the Simmons YMCA to scope out potential spaces to relocate the flea market. He plans to weigh the “realistic side” of what vendors want with “what’s acceptable to get them back to work.” Bokhari said he also will look into options that could expand the flea market’s reach.

Charlotte bought the vacant 80-acre Eastland property, once a bustling mall with a signature indoor ice-skating rink, in 2012. In 2020, City Council unanimously approved a rezoning petition from developer Crosland Southeast to transform the site into a mixed-use hub , with 1,050 homes, shops, restaurants, offices and a 2-acre public park.

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

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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