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Tenants optimistic about Ballantyne Village’s future

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/31/11/10/Nb0xW.Em.138.jpeg|316
    ELISABETH ARRIERO - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    Ted Hill, vice president of Vision Ventures, said the company has started maintenance items at Ballantyne Village such as landscaping and repairs to sidewalks and parking areas.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/31/11/10/cdu5u.Em.138.jpeg|237
    ELISABETH ARRIERO - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    Ted Hill, vice president of Vision Ventures, said Ballantyne Village tenants – and patrons – can expect better things in 2014, including improvements to the common areas.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/31/11/10/UoMjs.Em.138.jpeg|237
    ELISABETH ARRIERO - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    Since Vision Ventures purchased the foreclosed Ballantyne Village property in October 2013, tenants have said they’ve noticed a marked improvement.

Since Vision Ventures purchased the foreclosed Ballantyne Village in October 2013, tenants have said there has been marked improvement.

Tenants say they feel their voices are being heard. Vision Ventures has distributed customer and tenant surveys and conducted demographic studies in recent months.

“It’s definitely nice to see them come in and jump in and get their hands dirty right away,” said Ben Torres, general manager of Emerson Joseph.

Ted Hill, vice president of Vision Ventures, said the company has started other maintenance, such as landscaping, repairs to sidewalks and parking areas, repainting, pressure-washing surfaces and cleaning.

Tenants also say they’ve noticed better music and repairs to the speaker system.

Hill said tenants, and patrons, can expect even better things in 2014, saying that by around June or July, the company expects to begin improvements to the common areas.

He also said the company is working on new way-finding signs for the complex to help people find various stores and parking.

Vision Ventures is using input from the recent surveys to determine a better mix of tenants for the complex and what the new common areas will look like.

The company already is discussing leasing arrangements with current tenants. The property is roughly 30 percent vacant, Hill said.

“No new leases have been signed, although we have a few proposals out,” said Hill. “The biggest difference that the public will notice will be new tenants, but there is nothing to announce there for now.”

Vision Ventures and Mount Vernon Asset Management paid $26.1 million for the mixed-use complex, officials said at the time of the purchase. Shortly after it was built, in 2006, Ballantyne Village was appraised for $71 million.

Ballantyne Village had faced foreclosure and sale before, in 2011; but instead of going that route, former owner BV Retail LLC restructured its debt with Bank of America.

Vision Ventures collaborated with Mount Vernon Asset Management to buy Ballantyne Village after Bank of America put the 170,000-square-foot property up for sale.

At the time of acquisition, foreclosure proceedings were complete and the property had been owned by the bank for nearly a year, said Adam Bernstein, a spokesman for the ownership group of Vision Ventures and Mount Vernon Asset Management.

The investment group also owns the Rosewood Condominiums at Providence and Sharon Amity roads. The luxury condos filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

“Our sweet spots are well-located commercial real estate assets that are financially impaired,” Hill said Jan. 29. “Ballantyne Village met both criteria.”

Current Ballantyne Village tenants said they’ve been pleased with the enthusiasm Vision Ventures has shown for revitalizing the property.

“I’m very confident in what they’ve presented thus far,” said Terry Miller, owner of D’Vine Wine Cafe. “They seem like a bunch of very upstanding, ethical people.”

Sean Martin, an Edward Jones financial adviser whose office is in Ballantyne Village, agreed. “They’ve been great, very helpful,” he said. “They have a good plan and a good vision for the center that’s going to bring a lot more people to the village.”

Martin said he was particularly excited about how the company would address parking issues. He noted that all of the main entrances to the complex have blind spots that pose a threat to driver and pedestrian safety.

Martin said he had been hit in his car by an oncoming car at the Village.

“The parking design is really bad,” he said. “There’s no way it could have been designed with pedestrians in mind.”

Tenants said they’re optimistic about what Vision Ventures is going to do to improve business not just for them but for the entire complex in 2014.

“There’s no reason it shouldn’t be really successful,” Martin said. “It’s in Ballantyne, there are a lot of families around here with dual incomes, there’s no reason this place shouldn’t do fantastic.”

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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