Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
An agreement between the city of Independence and Granada Trust gives the developer one year to pay off debts associated with the unfinished Independence Station.
March 19, 2013
INDEPENDENCE -- Construction on Independence Station could resume this year following a recently-reached settlement between the city of Independence and the project's developers.
The agreement gives the Granada Trust a year to pay the city approximately $548,000, plus interest, for system development charges owed since 2009.
If the trust can't cover the debt, Independence "would have the right to take immediate possession" of the partially-built 57,000-square-foot complex, according to City Manager David Clyne.
"I think it meets our needs and gives (Granada Trust) every opportunity to have a window to develop the property in the way they want," Clyne said. "We will do what we can to help them because it's in our best interest to see the building finished."
Steven Ribeiro, a trust member and developer, confirmed the terms of the settlement.
The city filed a lawsuit in September 2010 against Ribeiro for unpaid system development charges -- fees developers pay to support infrastructure that will be impacted by their completed projects.
The two parties have been in mediation since last fall, after a federal judge in California dismissed a separate $14.5 million lawsuit filed by former project contractor Johnson Controls Inc. against Granada over claims of defaulted loans.
The city and Granada's settlement, finalized last week, allows 12 months to pay off the debt without the threat of foreclosure. If the debt is paid, the city's stake in the site goes away.
"If that doesn't happen, we'll regain possession of the property and attempt to sell the building to cover our costs," Clyne said.
Ribeiro said financing is being secured and that construction should restart "within a year."
"I've dedicated my life to getting this going," Ribeiro said. "We've overcome all delays in moving forward and we're excited."
Plans for a number of energy and environmentally-friendly features -- such as solar arrays and rainwater storage -- are all still intact, he said.
One relatively new element to the building is the inclusion of medical facilities, according to Ribeiro and the Independence Station website.
Ribeiro announced Independence Station shortly after purchasing the land the steel and concrete shell sits on at the intersection of Monmouth and Second streets in 2004. Financial issues led to construction delays and subsequent litigation halted the project. There's been no significant construction onsite since at least 2009.
"We've had an engineer look at the building and we can pick up right where we left off," Ribeiro said.
One visible change to the exterior in the last few months, however, is a sign on the building that stresses it's a private project.
"We were getting a lot of questions from residents who thought this was a city project," Clyne said. "We made that request (for a sign) and Ribeiro was gracious enough to honor it."
The agreement comes at a critical time for Independence -- it's facing a nearly $700,000 shortfall in its 2013-14 budget and severe staff reductions unless it can recoup revenue.
"At this point, it's more about getting the building completed," Clyne said.