GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The City of Greensboro is facing a lawsuit over parts of a plan to build two new parking decks in the city's downtown area.
The Greater Greensboro Entertainment Group, LLC filed a lawsuit Friday against the city over the concern a new parking deck could put Cone Denim Entertainment Center out of business.
According to court documents, The Greater Greensboro Entertainment Group is looking for an injunction on any action in which the City of Greensboro would condemn an easement used by Cone Denim Entertainment Center. The city needs that area to build a proposed parking deck at the corner of February One and Davie Streets. City plans indicate the parking deck would be built in part on the parking lot behind the music venue.
"It will destroy our business," says Amiel Rossabi, attorney for Cone Denim Entertainment Center. "It's an entertainment venue and the backdoor access is absolutely essential."
In 2014, the City of Greensboro and Cone Denim Entertainment Center entered into an agreement where the city owned most of the lot, but the music venue had rights to an easement behind their property. They used the easement to bring in acts for their concerts and say any change to the easement could potentially violate fire codes and public safety and also create a nuisance for acts traveling in to perform at the venue. Court documents indicate Cone Denim Entertainment Center tried to renew this parking agreement, but the city opted to terminate it.
On December 19, 2017 Greensboro City Council voted to acquire the easement by eminent domain. A letter was written to the parties involved with Greater Greensboro Entertainment Center on December 21, 2017, giving notice the City will be filing a condemnation complaint with Guilford County to take over the easement on or about January 23, 2018.
Rossabi said he needed to file their lawsuit before that, which he did. He says the city is now holding off on the condemnation complaint until a court hearing about the injunction scheduled for next week.
In earlier reports, Greensboro city officials and leaders at Cone Denim Entertainment Center indicated they were trying to work together to reach a resolution that would work for both parties.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan and City Manager Jim Westmoreland have been in favor of the new parking decks, citing the need for them due to downtown growth.
At that same information session, a handful of people expressed more concerns about paying off the new parking decks and availability of space to the general public. The city says the parking decks will pay for themselves, with a hike in prices for leasing spaces and an increase in tax revenue from new businesses around the decks.
Mayor Vaughan thinks the city is on the right side of things.
"We certainly don't want to hurt any small businesses, but we believe that the easement we're going to supply gives them better or equal access and that is what's required under the law," she explains.
Mayor Vaughan adds that the city is still open to negotiations.
Court documents say construction for the parking decks is set to start February 1, 2018, but that's on hold until the a judge hears the case. The hearing is scheduled for next week.