A lawsuit to save the proposed lagoon development along Lake Ray Hubbard was filed by the City of Rowlett Friday after city officials said the developer has defaulted on an agreement to build $1 billion project.
In the works since 2015, the development was to include the lagoon on the south side of Interstate 30 with stores, restaurants, a hotel and convention center nestled around it.
Neighbors were pleased with that plan.
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“It became a real estate development plus. And that’s what Rowlett needed for the sign to say, ‘here we are.’ So it was much more important than just a real estate development. It would add immeasurably to Rowlett’s asset base,” said resident Ron Miller.
He and other neighbors were there as Mayor Tammy Dana-Bashian announced the lawsuit.
“We are disappointed that it has reached this point and we are forced to take this action,” she said. “This is a text book bait and switch.”
The site was once City of Dallas park land along Lake Ray Hubbard until Dallas voters approved selling it to Rowlett years ago. Dallas used the money for other park improvements closer to Dallas residents. Rowlett sold the land to the Bayside Developers and set up city support to help provide roads and other infrastructure.
Big new apartments are under construction on the north side of I-30.
“The city would not have agreed to that level of residential density without the retail and commercial support on the south side,” the mayor said.
Last summer the developers informed the city they wanted to eliminate the lagoon, a trolley and large fountain planned on the south side of I-30, claiming the improvements were not financially sound. The City of Rowlett rejected the changes in September.
“Lots of feasibility studies were performed and we believe it is absolutely feasible in accordance with the original plans,” Dana-Bashian said.
Among other things, the lawsuit seeks ownership of the land south of I-30 reverted back to Rowlett.
“We’d like for the land to be returned to the city so the city can do what the city has intended for that property to be,” said attorney Michael Collins, who represents Rowlett in the lawsuit.
Miller said neighbors want the original vision to come true.
“You take away the lagoon, you take away the fountain and the trolley, it’s just another real estate development which we’ve got all over North Texas,” he said. “They made so many representations all over the entire state and every resident of Rowlett thought they knew what the deal was going to be, and they pulled the rug right out from under it.”
A representative of Bayside Land Partners attended a Friday afternoon city press conference about the lawsuit and said the developers would issue a statement.
Friday evening the spokesman said the developers had not yet reviewed the lawsuit and could not comment.