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Metrolina Expo site to become $80M distribution park with homage to fairgrounds, airport heritage

By Ken Elkins  |  Senior Staff Writer  Charlotte Business Journal

Beacon Partners plans to develop an $80 million distribution business park called Metrolina Logistics Park on the 94-acre site that now houses the Metrolina Tradeshow Expo in north Charlotte.

Jon Morris, partner at Beacon, says the park will honor the site’s fairgrounds and early airport heritage in signage or some other type of monument on the property.

Beacon has an agreement to buy the site and plans to start construction during the second half of 2016.

Tim Robertson, director of industrial leasing at Beacon, says north Charlotte desperately needs the distribution space.
“This state-of-the-art park will accommodate both new business to the area as well as growth from existing north Charlotte parks, which without exception are 90%-plus occupied,” Robertson says.

Beacon plans 1.2 million square feet of distribution and connected office space on the site, Morris says. The sizes of buildings that will occupy the site haven’t been determined.

Jeff Edge, senior vice president of economic development at the Charlotte Chamber, says the planned Beacon park will help fill the need for distribution space in north Charlotte. It will also bring jobs, Edge notes. “We have tracked this property for over two decades as a great potential Class A park site and are pleased that it soon could be a recruiting tool for companies interested in Charlotte,” Edge says.
Redevelopment of Metrolina site has undergone numerous starts and stops during the last 20 years. In 2009, Linda Pistone — the owner of the property — had the land rezoned to allow for a racing and entertainment area to accommodate a $50 million project planned by Simon Weber. That plan never got any traction though.

On Monday, a Charlotte City Council public hearing on a request to rezone the site drew very few comments. One council member jokingly lamented that her “favorite” antique show site could be lost with plans for redevelopment.

Pistone entitled the letter sent to Metrolina Tradeshow Expo merchants this week as “Bittersweet.” The redevelopment ends more than 30 years of antique and other sales there.

The last antiques show and sale will be held in June, Pistone told her customers. They have until June 20 to clear out merchandise in their booths and stalls.

Morris is captured by tales of events that have happened over the last 50 years at the site, which is today commonly known as “Metrolina Expo.”

“There are some interesting stories out there,” Morris says. “Linda Pistone tells a story of how she and her father waved off an Eastern Airlines flight that had mistaken the airfield for Charlotte Douglas.”

This morning, Morris talked about possibly giving a Metrolina Logistics sign a Ferris wheel theme. Interesting stories from the Pistone family’s ownership of the site could be displayed along sidewalks and a roadway that would link Statesville and Old Statesville roads through the park, he says.

Pistone, a pilot, has landed aircraft on the airstrip on the property. One web story of the airstrip calls it the former Brockenbrough Airport.

already attracted a customer that plans to lease 74,000 square feet in the park.

In 2002, Pistone told the Charlotte Business Journal that she wanted $40 million for the Metrolina Expo site, including an additional 54 acres that once was a part of the larger tract.

This morning, Morris declined to disclose the price being paid for the smaller site but did say it was less than Pistone’s earlier asking price.

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