Ballantyne parking fight leads owner to sue city of Charlotte

A parking deck company in Ballantyne is suing the city of Charlotte, alleging it’s been treated unfairly in a dispute involving the shopping center next door.

In the past, the owners of the Ballantyne Village shopping center and the owners of adjacent parking have been at odds over where shoppers and employees can park. Now, the city of Charlotte is involved in the conflict, with the parking deck owner claiming in a lawsuit that city officials made “illegal back room deals” as the shopping center made plans to expand.

Ballantyne Village Parking LLC filed its suit Thursday in federal court. A spokesperson for the city of Charlotte said officials would not comment on the issue, due to the recently filed lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, ASVRF SP Ballantyne Village JV LLC, the California-based owner of the mall, planned to convert its movie theater into office space, which would expand the interior of the shopping center. Zoning ordinances require a certain number of parking spaces per square foot of retail space, and according to the lawsuit, the mall owners claimed “exclusive right” to 83 spaces in the parking deck.

But, the owner of the parking deck says they haven’t agreed the mall can use the spaces.

Ballantyne Village is a popular shopping center located off of Johnston Road in the Ballantyne area of South Charlotte. Previously, the parking deck and retail area was owned by one company. The mall was sold in 2013 for nearly $26 million and again in 2017 for about $43 million. The parking deck, though, was not sold.

Since then, the two owners have battled in court.

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In 2014, the previous owners of Ballantyne Village took legal action to require the parking lot’s owner to make up to 364 parking spaces available for shoppers, the Observer reported at the time. In another dispute, the parking deck owner, who also owns a paved lot nearby, sued the mall, saying a potential buyer wanted exclusive access to parking spots, the Observer reported.

During these disputes, customers complained about the lack of parking at the shopping center.

“I worry that there was a perception last time that BVP (Ballantyne Village Parking) was sort of the bad guy,” said Will Terpening, attorney for Ballantyne Village Parking, LLC. “Because some of the things that BVP feels it needs to do to protect its rights to the deck inconvenienced shoppers. It’s important to know that BVP has sort of been forced into this position.”

Terpening said the city should have included his client, the parking deck owner, in communications over the mall’s proposal to use parking spaces there. And, the lawsuit claims the city granted the shopping center a permit for expansion without confirming that the additional parking Ballantyne Village claimed to have was available.

“From our perspective [it’s] a pretty shocking abuse of the city’s power and the city’s obligation to remain neutral in disputes like this,” Terpening said.

An attorney for Ballantyne Village shopping center could not be reached by the Observer on Friday.

Danielle Chemtob covers economic growth and development for the Observer. She’s a 2018 graduate of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill and a California transplant.