Liberty University holdings company buys Lynchburg shopping center

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) One of Lynchburg's oldest retail properties has a new owner.

LU Plaza Holdings, LLC, a real estate holdings company affiliated with Liberty University, purchased the Fort Hill Village Shopping Center last week.

The sale closed Friday. A Liberty University spokesperson said the purchase price was $3-million.

"First and foremost we acquired it because we are increasing our commercial real estate investment portfolio," said Liberty University General Counsel, David Corry.

The school also wanted the property for parking. Around 600 freshmen are leaving their cars at Fort Hill and taking a shuttle back to campus.

"There are some initial concerns," said Whit Johnston, an attorney who represents the owner of a Kinetix gym at the shopping center.

Johnston told WDBJ7 Tuesday that his client is dealing with frustrated customers, who can't find convenient parking now that Liberty students are using the lot in front of Kinetix.

"There has been some unavailability of spots to meet the needs of the (gym) membership," Johnston said. "Kinetix has offered to park some elderly clients (cars) for them, so that they don't have to park so far away."

Johnston said Liberty's attorneys have been communicating with him every day to address the problem. School leaders have asked their students to park farther away from the businesses to free up spaces for customers.

"They had a couple of Liberty police officers here taking license numbers so that they could contact the students who parked incorrectly and let them know where they are supposed to put their cars," said Robert Kendall, who owns a consignment business at the shopping center.

Kendall and several others who own stores in the shopping center say the parking situation hasn't impacted their business. They're happy to see Liberty come in and hope the new owners will improve the property.

"I think they're going to do a good job with the Fort Hill shopping center," Kendall said. "Our daughter is a Liberty University graduate and they've done some wonderful things in the city. They make a huge difference economically to Lynchburg."

Liberty's holdings company does have plans to improve the shopping center. Leaders of the organization are hoping to expand the parking lot and they're working on a project that would redevelop part of the building. Details of the redevelopment were not disclosed during an interview with Liberty's spokesperson Tuesday.