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Jax Daily Record Friday, Dec. 20, 201902:21 PM EST

City to pay former owner of The Jacksonville Landing an additional $3.7 million

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The court orders a settlement of the 4-year-old parking lot dispute.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

More than four years after the lawsuit was filed, and nearly five months after a two-day nonjury trial, a judge has ordered the city to pay the former owners of The Jacksonville Landing $3.7 million.

The payment is to settle a dispute over a parking lot adjacent to the now substantially demolished Downtown venue.

Circuit Judge Robert Dees on Dec. 12 ordered the city to pay Jacksonville Landing Investments LLC $3,717,876 and also ordered that the purchase and sale transaction of the parking lot, known as the East Parcel, be rescinded.

JLI is a subsidiary of Sleiman Enterprises Inc.

According to court documents, in June 2001 the city and The Rouse Company, the developer and original owner of the Landing, entered into an agreement for the city to operate the east parcel as a surface parking lot in support of the Landing.

Jacksonville Landing Investments purchased the Landing from Rouse in 2003 and also acquired the option to purchase the East parcel from the city.

The city and JLI in February 2007 agreed for JLI to purchase the East Parcel for $4.7 million, the appraised value of the property.

The parties agreed that the city owed JLI about $345,000 in unpaid administrative fees related to the parking lot.

On May 30, 2007, JLI gave the city $4,354,875, which together with the administrative fee credit represented the full purchase price. In exchange, the city gave JLI possession and control of the parcel.

For more than four years, the real estate transaction was not closed and JLI collected parking fees on the lot.

On October 17, 2014, JLI determined it wanted to rescind the transaction and notified the city it wanted the purchase price returned.

According to the final judgment, the city did not at that time agree to JLI's demands and did not take any action to refund the purchase price.

In August 2015, and again a month later, the city Office of General Counsel sent letters to JLI's attorneys demanding that JLI complete the agreement.

JLI disagreed that it needed to complete the transaction and did not comply with the city's demands.

In response, the city filed a motion in October 2015 seeking declaratory judgment that's the subject of the final judgment entered by the court. JLI filed a counterclaim for breach of contract for return of the purchase payment.

The city amended its complaint in June 2018 and requested an equitable accounting of the amount of money to be credited to each party in order to cancel the transaction.

This past March, the city and JLI entered into and filed with the court an agreement to rescind the purchase and allow the court to determine compensation.

In its final judgment, the court ordered that JLI would return the East parcel to the city, which it did on April 30, and also return to the city $2,843,132.33 in income JLI earned during the time it had possession and control of the parking lot.

The court found that the city must return to JLI its $4,354,875 purchase price and return to JLI the $2,206,133 in investment income the city earned since it deposited JLI's purchase payment into the city's investment account in May 2007.

That yielded a net amount of $3,717,876 to be returned to JLI by the city to restore both parties to their respective status quo.

The court also ordered the city to pay JLI 6.89% interest on the ordered payment from Dec. 12 until the payment is made to JLI.

In March. City Council approved a $15 million buyout of JLI's long-term ground lease of the real estate underneath the Landing, plus $1.5 million to relocate tenants it evicted and $1.5 million to demolish the 32-year-old structure.

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