Wrangling Over Irving Entertainment Complex Continues

Developer accuses mayor of getting in the way

The Irving City Council rejected Friday changes to the city's agreement with the develop of a $250 million entertainment complex that were proposed by the mayor.

In a special session, the council discussed 20 changes suggested by Mayor Beth Van Duyne to the city's agreement with the Las Colinas Group.

In a letter, the Las Colinas Group accused the mayor of interfering with its efforts to get investors.

The special session had been called to discuss the city's plan to secure its part of the project's funding. The city and the developer are to split the project's $250 million price tag, with the city coming up with $170 million.

Three council members called the special meeting to vote on spending up to $200,000 to get a public bond rating on the city's $170 million contribution.

The measure passed 6-3.

The Las Colinas Group was to have secured $80 million by early February. When it failed to do so, the City Council voted 6-3 to extend the deadline to August.

Duyne, along with two other council members, cast the dissenting votes. She added 20 items to the agenda of Friday's special session, all of which were voted down.

William F. Beuck II, chairman of the Las Colinas Group, wrote the letter to the mayor after the proposed changes were added to the meeting's agenda. He also alluded to possible legal action if the mayor breached the city's original contract.

The Las Colinas Group spokesman David Margulies said before the meeting that the mayor's actions were a "blatant political ploy to kill the entertainment center project."

"The city has fulfilled every one of its obligations to the Las Colinas Group since the inception of this project, and we have repeatedly indulged numerous requests from the Las Colinas Group for contract amendments and deadline extensions," Van Duyne said in a statement. "We expect the Las Colinas Group to respect our wish to keep our taxpayers' best interests represented."

Deputy Pro Tem Mayor Gerald Farris, who voted against the deadline extension for the Las Colinas Group in February, said he supported Van Duyne's inclusion of the 20 agenda items.

"We have some points in our contract that could be changed that would be of benefit of the city of Irving to make this a more viable project," he said.

But Councilman Dennis Webb, who said he has always supported the project, said he was infuriated with Van Duyne's additions to the agenda.

"She knows she doesn't have the votes to do it, she knows this is an exercise and knows that what she is doing is creating more division," he said.

The proposed entertainment complex would be built adjacent to the new Irving Convention Center and would have a concert hall, live stages, restaurants and more.

Voters approved the project in 2007. So far, the city has spent more than $21 million developing it.

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