Foreclosure threat to Montgomery Plaza condos may be over

Posted Monday, Jan. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- Thos. S. Byrne, a Fort Worth general contracting firm, appears to have reached an agreement with the developer of Montgomery Plaza over a $6.6 million debt and as a result will not foreclose on the owners of 93 condos in the near west side development.

In August, Byrne sued for the right to foreclose to collect money that Plano-based OMP Development owed for redevelopment.

OMP hired Byrne to convert the upper seven floors of the former Montgomery Ward building on West Seventh Street into 240 condos. Byrne said it had been paid $43.2 million but was still owed $6.6 million for labor, materials and services. Byrne worked for OMP from 2007 to 2010.

On Jan. 16, a state district judge signed an order dismissing the lawsuit at Byrne's request. Byrne said in a filing that it "no longer desires to prosecute its suit" against OMP.

Byrne initially said the lawsuit was needed to preserve the company's lien rights indefinitely. The two sides were scheduled for arbitration late last year.

Matthew Avila, Byrne's director of risk management, said Monday that he could not discuss why the company dismissed the suit.

"This fight might be over," Avila said. "This one has come to a close."

Kenneth Chaiken, OMP's attorney, could not be reached for comment.

For more than two years, Byrne has been fighting in court with OMP over unpaid bills. In June 2010, Byrne filed for arbitration to secure payment. A month later, it filed mechanic's lien rights on the 240 units. OMP filed a counterclaim alleging that Byrne filed the liens illegally and that the two sides had agreed to keep the project lien-free.

The project was foreclosed two years ago and 144 unoccupied condos were sold in an auction, wiping out the mechanic's liens on those units. By June of 2011, members of the original development group, under the name 2600 Montgomery Llc., bought back the unfinished condos.

Until the lien release this month, the units sold to homeowners remained subject to the liens securing payment of the developer's debt for construction.

Property records show that 2600 Montgomery Llc. still owns about 105 condos in the development.

Montgomery Ward closed the Fort Worth store in 2001.The first-floor retail portion of the building was completed by another developer.

Sandra Baker, (817) 390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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