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Council pushes foward on entertainment complex

20130511 entertainment centerA Louisiana company has struck a tentative deal with the City that would put the entertainment center back on a construction track and potentially settle a multi-million dollar lawsuit with the center’s former developer.

The City Council voted on May 9 for the memorandum of understanding, which states the City can move forward with negotiating a contract with the company.

The Council voted 6-3 for the memorandum of understanding. Mayor Beth Van Duyne and council members Brad LaMorgese and Thomas Spink voted against. Council members Rose Cannaday, Joe Putnam, Michael Gallaway, Dennis Webb, Gerald Farris and Roy Santoscoy voted in favor.

“We are not jumping into anything here,” Santoscoy said. “We are entering into a deliberate discussion with a developer that we believe has the possibility to finish this.”

Under the proposed agreement, Ark Promotions would pay to design and build a 6,500 person amphitheater, plaza and indoor concert hall. The “Irving Music Factory” would also include restaurants and 5,000 square feet of retail space. The deal also stipulates that Ark Promotions would have to break ground by the end of 2014 and finish building by summer 2016.

The City’s part of the agreement would include building a parking garage and offering Ark millions in tax rebates, including two percent of the hotel occupancy taxes collected in the City.

The City Council spent more than an hour on May 9 discussing the deal. Chief among the concerns: was the Council rushing into an agreement without properly vetting the private company’s finances and background?

“I would love to support this, but then the only thing we have from this company is an MOU,” Van Duyne said. “There’s no financials. No due diligence. No background. It’s very bad business practice to enter into an exclusive agreement for 120 days without any background.”

The City had originally partnered with the Las Colinas Group to build the entertainment center. However, the entertainment center project stalled in the fall when the City Council voted down a resolution to extend negotiations with the project’s developer.

Shortly after the vote, LCG filed a lawsuit against the city, which has since been discussed in closed mediation sessions.

LCG’s last proposal for the entertainment center was for the City to pay for about $17 million of the development. It is estimated the City has spent about $35 million on the project already.

Ark Promotions, however, could pay LCG to drop the lawsuit, according to the memo. Negotiations will continue.

Ark Promotions owns the N.C. Music Factory, an entertainment complex in Charlotte, NC.