Sides await ruling on Dillard's trial
Last Updated: 16:00 August 20, 2013
The plan to redevelop the mall requires construction financing and land use approvals - two things that can't happen until the Longmont Urban Renewal Authority has the title to the Dillard's property, according to court documents filed by attorneys for LURA. LURA is made up of Longmont's elected city council members. The group is up against Dillard's Inc. (NYSE: DDS) to take possession of the property in a case known as eminent domain - the legal right of a public entity to take private property after providing compensation to the owner.
LURA previously asked for immediate title to the property. LURA will withdraw that request as long as the case goes to court on Nov. 18, according to court documents filed Monday.
"An earlier trial date would be better in terms of moving the redevelopment project forward," LURA attorneys said in the court documents filed Monday. "However, a Nov. 18 trial date would avoid putting the Twin Peaks Mall redevelopment in jeopardy."
The trial is expected to last five days. Neither representatives from Dillard's nor NewMark Merrill Mountain States, the redevelopment company that owns the mall, responded to calls for comment before the Business Report's deadline on Tuesday.
Dillard's owns its own building and land and has the authority to veto any changes to the current Twin Peaks Mall.
Judge D.D. Mallard has not ruled on the Nov. 18 trial date. Dillard's had asked that the jury trial be heard the week of Dec. 16, saying that its legal team would not have time to prepare a case before then. Legal experts say juries may award larger amounts to property owners than a judge or a three-person panel would. By law, eminent-domain cases can be decided by a judge, a three-person panel of land holders or a jury.
In Colorado, juries have awarded favorable verdicts in eminent-domain cases, said Richard Collins, a legal expert at the University of Colorado-Boulder. In addition, if a jury awards a verdict price of 130 percent or more of the last offer by the city - in this case, about $4 million - the government entity would have to pay the landowner's court costs as well, Collins said.
"Colorado verdicts show this is a favorable state for landowners trying to get the most out of eminent domain," Collins said. "In some cases, (juries returned) verdicts so large the government has backed out and said it's not going to pay."
Last week, Dillard's attorney Leslie Fields asked the court to dismiss the eminent-domain case altogether. Mallard has not ruled on that request.
NewMark Merrill wants to redevelop Twin Peaks Mall and rename it Village at the Peaks, with opening slated for early 2015. A 100,000-square-foot Sam's Club and a 30,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM) grocery store have signed on to anchor the new shopping center.
City officials offered to purchase the Dillard's property for $3.6 million earlier this year, but Dillard's has requested $5 million. An appraisal done by the city in November valued the property at $3.03 million.
More breaking news...
Longmont, Dillard's still far apart on price
Mental Health Partners opens in Lyons
Longmont officials, operating as the Longmont Urban
Colorado Gives Day exceeds $20 million
The center at 329 Main St. will open Thursday, Dec. 12. The
Colorado Gives Day is an initiative established in 2010 to increase philanthropy in Colorado through online