South Charlotte

New retail center highlights the arts

Ballantyne is adding a new retail development to the area.

Ballantyne Corners, located at Ballantyne Commons Parkway and North Community House Road, is projected to open mid-2011.

Construction began in mid-2009 with the York Development Group but has faced delays that have set back its completion date. "We've taken a cautious but optimistic approach," said Doug Baumgartner, owner of York Development. "I believe the community will support unique retail in the area."

He said he was careful not to overlap with any existing businesses in Ballantyne.

"We wanted to bring a unique set of retailers to Ballantyne," said Baumgartner. "We didn't want to add another Salsaritas or nail salon to the area."

Skillets, which opened its doors Nov. 6, is the first restaurant to open in the development. In its first weekend, the breakfast-centered restaurant served more than 1,000 people, said Baumgartner.

Other restaurants coming to the center will include a Mongolian barbecue restaurant, which will have a casual, family atmosphere and an Asian-inspired menu. Duffy's, a casual restaurant with an upscale menu, will also feature a 1,500-square-foot rooftop patio.

The center will also include the Ballantyne Arts Consortium. Baumgartner said that the business idea came from Doug Singleton of the N.C. Dance Theatre, after they had discussed the lack of arts in Ballantyne.

"He really opened our eyes to the large arts void in Ballantyne," said Baumgartner. "Right now, the arts are mainly garage arts: in the back of churches, community centers and schools."

His goal is to bring the arts to the community through what he called "an executive center for the arts."

"We are giving (the arts) a chance to come together and give it a retail location they wouldn't normally be able to afford," said Baumgartner.

The consortium will bring together dance, music, theater and the visual arts. As an extension of the Morrison YMCA's preschool program, the consortium will hold a preschool from morning to midday and will recruit teachers for various art classes.

"It will be almost like a Julliard School for preschoolers," said Baumgartner.

From 3-8 p.m., the consortium will cater to the after-school and after-work crowd. Members of the arts community, such as the N.C. Dance Theatre and Streetwise, a music and instrument instructional school, will present dance classes, instrumental and vocal instruction, a children's theater and adult improv classes.

"Sometimes, people find it hard to make it all the way to uptown for a show," said Baumgartner. "The consortium will also have a black box theater, which will bring small-scale theater productions to Ballantyne."

"We think there's a demand," he said. "I think the community will respond well."