Bold visions compete for Eastland Mall redevelopment (Charlotte Observer)

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ARK Ventures is a partnership between Rick and Noah Lazes, who built the N.C. Music Factory on the edge of uptown. They have teamed with Wagner Murray Architects of Charlotte and developer Ryland Homes.

The focus of ARK Ventures is to build what could be called an entertainment/activity center on 27 acres of the site. This could include a 40,000-square-foot ski slope, a skateboard park, a wave pool, ice skating rink and a gymnasium. The first part of the project would also include a 60,000-square-foot office building.

“People are leaning towards entertainment in a healthy way,” said David Wagner of Wagner Murray Architects.

He said the $51 million center would be integrated into the nearby neighborhood.

“It’s like Coney Island in the 1920s, where the amusement park was built right next to the neighborhood,” he said. “We abandoned that, but there are historical models.”

ARK Ventures said a movie studio could be built in a later phase of development – but not as a primary driver for Eastland.

“Our argument was, you can’t build a movie studio as an income generator,” Wagner said.

The Lazes have experience with movie studios. ReelWorks Studios is part of the N.C. Music Factory.

The Lazes also recently made a push to renovate the uptown Carolina Theatre. But council members selected the Foundation for the Carolinas for the project.