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Ballantyne Village owners file motion to open more parking spaces

ballantyne village 0605
Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
A spat over parking at Ballantyne Village has escalated in recent months, with a lawsuit filed and metal poles installed to permanently block hundreds of parking spaces.

The owners of the upscale Ballantyne Village shopping center are taking legal steps to end a months-long parking dispute that they say has inconvenienced customers and hurt business.

Vision Ventures and Mount Vernon Asset Management filed a motion for a preliminary injunction last week that would require the original developer to free up as many as 364 parking spaces for customers.

Bob Bruner, who owns the parking deck and two surface lots at the center through his company, Ballantyne Village Parking LLC, recently installed metal poles that block off his lots and many spaces in the garage. He has said he wants to redevelop the site for a different use, such as condos or a hotel.

The injunction would require Bruner to remove the poles and stop blocking parking spaces.

With its shops, restaurants and movie theater topped with a glowing crown, Ballantyne Village is one of Charlotte’s most recognizable shopping centers.

In a lawsuit he filed in May, Bruner said he had a potential buyer for one of the surface lots who wouldn’t make the deal without assurance that he’d be able to restrict access to them.

Bruner said he has an easement that allows him or any buyer to do so. He used to own the entire shopping center, but Vision Ventures and Mount Vernon purchased the retail stores, movie theater and adjoining parking lots in October for $26.1 million after the lender foreclosed on the development.

The owners maintain they now hold the rights outlined in the easement. It grants “irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive access” to as many parking spaces on Bruner’s property as necessary to meet zoning requirements, the owners say in their motion.

While Bruner hasn’t restricted access to all of his spaces, he’s blocked or reserved too many, the owners’ motion states.

Bruner’s attorney, Will Terpening, said in an email that his client has complied with the easement and allowed use of a “certain number” of spaces on his property.

“Unfortunately, Vision Ventures and Mount Vernon appear to be trying to get access to more of Mr. Bruner’s company’s property than they are permitted to have under the easement,” Terpening wrote.

Mark Boley, general manager at Outland Gift and Cigar, said there hasn’t been any improvement in parking at the shopping center.

“Progress will be when there are no more barricades,” Boley said, “but there’s no telling how long that’s going to take.”

Cassella: 704-358-5384; Twitter: @mmcassella
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