CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For months, Channel 9 has followed the parking battle unfolding at Ballantyne Village.
Eyewitness News learned the owner of dozens of empty and in-demand parking spots filed a lawsuit last month against the people who own the Ballyntyne Village Property.
"I'm like, totally shocked. This whole strip going up here is almost vacant now," Alisa Parks who was shopping at Ballantyne Village Thursday, said.
Shoppers like Parks think the reason for so many empty storefronts is the difficulty finding parking.
"I think it's pretty extreme. This used to be a very nice shopping center," Parks said.
Other patrons told Eyewitness News it's difficult to find parking in the area, and it is frustrating to see so many open spots go unused.
"I had to drive around two or three times the facility to try to find a place to park," Luisa Morrone said.
Bob Bruner owns Ballantyne Village Parking, which includes two lots and part of a multistory parking structure right next to the shops and restaurants at Ballantyne Village, owned by somebody else.
Patrons can only park in a front lot that has few spaces or in part of the parking structure.
In a lawsuit filed last month, Bruner's attorney said his client thinks retailers are unfairly using the spots "to treat BVP's parking deck and adjacent lots as its own."
Bruner's attorney told Eyewitness News in an email that his client "has attempted to negotiate with the retail space owners. They have not been receptive to date."
Channel 9 reached out to the owners of Ballantyne Village Property. A spokesperson said his client received the lawsuit and is currently reviewing its claims.
Businesses say they are frustrated but feel it's out of their control.
"He does have every right to do this, but the only thing we can do is lay down and take it," Josh Wilson, the manager at nearby Terrace Cafe, said.
Wilson said he would like to see more development in the area, but as his business declines he's afraid it will be too little, too late.
Bruner's attorney said his client wants to sell the property, but his prospective buyer needs confirmation he or she will be able to control which driveways retail uses to access certain parking spaces. In the meantime, he said, Bruner wants the metal poles up to protect what he said is rightfully his.
Below is a full statement from the owners of Ballantyne Village:
Our company owns 340+ parking spaces on the Ballantyne Village site.
Additionally, there is an agreement in place that gives us use of another 300+ parking spaces and access to any of the driveways on property owned by Ballantyne Village Parking LLC (BVP). Thus, the agreement gives us the right to park in the deck and in the majority of the spaces on the site.
We completely disagree with the BVP owner's characterization of the parking situation at the site and believe that he is in violation of the parties' agreement.
Feb. 21: Battle brewing over parking in Ballantyne