Developers in a fight we rarely get to see

Charlotte is one of those cities where ladies and gentlemen of the business world iron out differences in a quiet, low-key manner.

A lunch at the City Club. A round of golf at Quail Hollow. A private meeting in the board room.

The public usually doesn't know there was a confrontation until everything is settled.

That's why the very public legal battle between two big developers is raising eyebrows and supplying ammunition to Uptown critics.

The Ghazi Co. of Charlotte and Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties have taken the fight to federal court.

In lawsuits, they blame each other for the problems that have stalled Flaherty & Collins' 50-story 210 Trade condo tower in The Ghazi Co.'s EpiCentre project.

Work progresses on the $180 million entertainment complex and a hotel, but the future of the condo tower is in jeopardy.

Neither side wants to go beyond the lawsuit in discussing details.

“It's very unusual to see this kind of lawsuit in Charlotte, but we have not seen deals like this done here before,” said real estate broker John Culbertson of Cardinal Real Estate Partners.

Citics believe this controversy signals the end for Uptown's high-rise boom, especially since 210 Trade isn't the only condo tower in trouble. Park Condominiums' lender have begun foreclosure proceedings against developers of the building at Third and Caldwell.

With about 25 cranes at work and a Third Ward condo tower headed toward completion in January, developers wouldn't agree that it's over in the center city.

“Those buildings were very successful,” said condo developer David Furman of Centro Cityworks. “The trouble began when the banks started pulling the shades.”

About 1,200 high-rise and midrise units are under construction or in the pre-sales stage.

Furman believes the delayed projects actually could lead to a shortage of new units. “I don't believe there will be any new ones started in the next 12 months, not because the market is bad, but because of the lenders.”