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Atlanta Restaurant's Lease Terminated After Shootout In Its Parking Lot

The location of the closed Loca Luna tapas restaurant in Atlanta's Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

An Atlanta retail landlord took the rare step this week of evicting a restaurant tenant after a third eruption of gunfire on its property.

Tapas and cocktail bar Loca Luna has been forced from its premises at Amsterdam Walk in Midtown Atlanta, property owner Halpern Enterprises confirmed to Bisnow Tuesday. The eviction followed an incident Sunday night in which police say two men opened fire in Loca Luna's parking lot after a fight between unidentified women inside the restaurant, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

No one was injured in the melee, which began around 10:30 p.m. in Amsterdam Walk, a historic warehouse complex-turned-retail center next to Piedmont Park in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. A video posted on the Twitter account ATL Uncensored showed people scrambling and hiding behind cars as shots rang out in Amsterdam Walk. Twenty minutes later, police found a man shot in the leg at a nearby gas station, an incident police told the AJC was connected to the Loca Luna shooting.

Two other shootings occurred last year at Loca Luna, including one in which a 23-year-old Acworth man was shot and killed after a confrontation with 18-year-old Brian Calderon Betancourt by his sports car in the parking lot after the restaurant was closed, the AJC reported.

“We have worked with the owners of Loca Luna in good faith regarding prior incidences at their restaurant. Unfortunately, the unlawful activity has continued,” Halpern Director of Marketing Stacy Schuch told Bisnow in an email. “Effective [Jan. 24], per our rights within the agreement, Halpern Enterprises has terminated the lease with Loca Luna at Amsterdam Walk. Loca Luna's owners have agreed to cease operations and remove their possessions.”

Bisnow left a message with Loca Luna Tuesday, but didn't receive any response as of press time.

Halpern's action against Loca Luna is a rarity in Atlanta's retail industry, but one that was likely necessary to stem criminal activity, said Marc Weinberg, a partner with The Shopping Center Group in Atlanta and a longtime Atlanta retail broker.

“I haven't heard of this happening any other time,” Weinberg said. “But if [the tenant] is not managing their space and who they are attracting to their space and who their customers are, then I would do what I could to evict them.”

Weinberg said retail landlords resort to this action in order to shield themselves from lawsuits by customers who may have been injured in an incident.

“I think you're already seeing landlords take more precautions for their property and their customers,” he said.

Both the owners of Atlantic Station and Lenox Square have enacted curfews in recent months, preventing anyone 18 or younger from remaining unaccompanied by other adults on their properties after certain hours in response to recent incidents.

Loca Luna's lease was set to expire “early next year,” Schuch said. Halpern — which owns a number of suburban shopping centers throughout the Southeast — had already taken measures at the property prior to this incident, including adding cameras and more security.

“With security precautions already in place, we have not seen a spike [in crime],” Schuck said.