Building, Billboard Exist Side By Side

One tenant says he has come to appreciate the view

Negotiations between developers and a neighboring property owner are at a stalemate, leaving one of Fort Worth's newest office buildings with beautiful views of downtown, West Seventh Street, the Modern Art Museum -- and a rusty old billboard.

"People come in here and they say, 'Man, look at that billboard!'" said attorney Ed Nelson, whose firm occupies the building's third floor.

The billboard, just a few feet away, largely blocks the view from a conference room.

The building at 3131 West Seventh Street, opened in January 2009. The billboard has been there as long as anyone can remember.

The developers would like to tear down the billboard, but the owner has declined to sell, said Reece Pettigrew, chief financial officer for Museum Place Development, an investment group developing 12 acres near Fort Worth's Museum District.

"We've had conversations with him for several years about buying his property, but we're never able to reach an agreement," Pettigrew said.

The owner, Dallas doctor Michael Mantas, called the developer's offers "between ridiculous and the absurd."

"Our position is not to hold anybody hostage for development, but to get a fair price," he said.

Negotiations broke down months ago, and no more talks are planned, both sides said -- meaning the billboard and the building will remain close neighbors for perhaps years to come.

Nelson, a partner in the patent law firm Nelson Bumgardner Casto, said at first he thought the billboard was an eyesore. But he said he now considers it more eclectic than ugly.

"At this point, I think I'd keep it, I really do," he said. "I mean, I like it. It's a talking piece."

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