Design firm sues former West End mall developer over missed payment

Developer said dispute centers on miscommunication and matter will be resolved.

A planning firm alleges a partnership founded by Atlanta Beltline visionary Ryan Gravel and music artist manager and investor Donray Von failed to pay its bill for designs it drafted for a proposed redevelopment of the Mall West End.

Kimley-Horn & Associates, a construction project planning and design firm based in Raleigh, N.C., filed a lawsuit in Fulton County State Court last month against developer Elevator City Partners and its cofounders. The lawsuit, first reported by real estate publication Bisnow, claims the developer failed to pay $26,213 for a utility and schematic study conducted as part of a lofty vision to revitalize the mall.

Elevator City’s plans fell through, and another developer has since pitched the site for a mixed-use project. In a brief email, Gravel chalked up the matter to a communication error.

“Elevator City Partners regrets missing a communication regarding this payment and has already begun the process of correcting the mistake,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gravel is known as the visionary behind the Atlanta Beltline. His master’s thesis at Georgia Tech served as the inspiration and blueprint behind the transformational project. Von is also a tech investor and serial entrepreneur.

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Elevator City hired Kimley-Horn in October 2020 to produce preliminary plans for the aging Mall West End, located at 850 Oak Street. The ambitious $300-plus million plan was to transform the 12-acre property into 1.3 million square feet of shops, offices, apartments and a hotel, but the plan fell apart by the end of 2020.

A payment plan was established last September, and Elevator City paid $10,000 but it failed to send the rest, according to the lawsuit. Kimley-Horn’s attorney, C. Adam Carvin of the Cobb Law Group, is asking for the missing payment in addition to 18% interest and attorney’s fees.

New York developer Tishman Speyer later attempted to pick up the baton and finish the project on its own, but that plan also never got off the ground.

Two other New York developers, The Prusik Group and BRP Companies, have taken over the mall’s redevelopment and released preliminary plans of a smaller redevelopment over the summer.

Credit: Prusik Group & BRP, via West End Neighborhood Development

Credit: Prusik Group & BRP, via West End Neighborhood Development