Rafael Palmeiro seeking millions from Euless bonsai expert

Posted Friday, Feb. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Just months after emerging from bankruptcy protection on a planned 200-acre Grapevine development, Rafael Palmeiro, the former Texas Rangers slugger turned real estate developer, is trying to collect millions of dollars from a Euless bonsai expert who bought land in the project for an Asian garden attraction.

Palmeiro sued Larry Leone and his PLL Bonsai Group, which in 2009 bought 20 acres in the planned Gardens of Grapevine near Grapevine Mills mall. The project was to have hotels, shopping, dining, entertainment, offices and residential space, but it stalled in the recession.

PLL Bonsai agreed to pay $4.8 million for the land and initially paid Palmeiro $1.1 million, according to the lawsuit, filed this week in state district court in Tarrant County.

PLL Bonsai borrowed $3.5 million from NG20 in Plano to buy the land. NG20 foreclosed in February 2010 after PLL Bonsai defaulted, deed records show.

Despite the foreclosure, Palmeiro is suing for breach of contract and says he is still owed $3.7 million, plus $358,000 in carrying costs and attorney fees.

Palmeiro made a demand for payment Jan. 18 but has not been paid, the suit says.

Leone, a landscape designer, could not be reached for comment Friday. No one answered at a home telephone number listed under his name.

The Gardens of Grapevine's bankruptcy proceeding was closed Nov. 6, court records show. The developer filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in June 2011, owing creditors $40 million. Creditors approved a reorganization plan that gave Palmeiro five years to sell the undeveloped property. In April 2012, the Texas Department of Transportation paid him $3 million for 4.1 acres at Texas 121 and Grapevine Mills Boulevard for a road expansion project. Palmeiro bought the land in 2007.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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