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Ryan Gravel, Partner Sued By Kimley-Horn For Nonpayment Over West End Mall Project

The Mall West End now has developers attempting to reimagine it.

The visionary behind the Atlanta BeltLine is facing legal trouble after allegedly failing to pay a prominent engineering firm for work done on the scuttled plans to redevelop the Mall West End.

Kimley-Horn & Associates filed a lawsuit in Fulton County court last month against Elevator City Partners and its co-founders, Ryan Gravel and Donray Von, accusing them of fraud and intentional misrepresentation over $26K in unpaid bills.

Gravel, whose Georgia Tech thesis was the catalyst for the creation of the Atlanta BeltLine, said the firm is now working to correct its "mistake."

"Elevator City Partners regrets missing a communication regarding this payment and has already begun the process of correcting the mistake," Gravel told Bisnow on Monday morning via email.

Elevator City had envisioned turning the struggling mall in the West End neighborhood into a mixed-use destination with apartments, hotel, office and retail.

The engineering firm was tasked that year with creating an “initial utility analysis for the public utility infrastructure” surrounding the 12.5-acre site, it said in the complaint.

Gravel and Von, venture capitalists who managed such musical acts as OutKast and the Roots, were planning the $400M project and had been attempting to raise 60% of the budget from opportunity zone funds, as well as $35M from a family office to kick off the initial redevelopment, Bisnow reported in January 2020.

But by October 2020, the mall's co-owners, Charles Taylor and Martin Halpern, said Elevator City's contract to buy the Mall West End had expired. 

“They were not able to obtain financing,” Taylor told The Saporta Report at the time. "We took a chance on them because we believed in their vision. We gave them two years to put it together. We are extremely disappointed they were not able to [pull] it off." 

In September 2021, Elevator City entered into a payment plan with Kimley-Horn, according to the suit, where the developers would pay $10K of the original $36K agreement for the utility study, then the rest in February. Kimley-Horn claims Elevator City paid the initial $10K, but hasn't made the final $26,213 payment.

Kimley-Horn sued Elevator City, alleging a breach of contract, fraud and deceit and intentional misrepresentation of its ability to pay its obligations, according to the lawsuit, filed July 15.

“Defendant Elevator City Partners intentionally made these false representations to induce and compel Plaintiff to perform on the Agreement,” Kimley-Horn attorney Adam Carvin of the Cobb Law Group said in the lawsuit.

Two New York firms, The Prusik Group and BRP Cos., have taken over the project and are now attempting to redevelop the mall and its surrounding property. 

UPDATE, AUG. 22, 11:50 A.M. ET:  The story has been updated to include comments from Elevator City Partners co-founder Ryan Gravel.