Arlington gives OK on replatting at Six Flags Mall

Posted Friday, Sep. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday approved plans to overhaul 22.5 acres at the former Six Flags Mall site in east Arlington, which gives the go-ahead to the property’s new owner to apply for building permits to redevelop the largely-vacant shopping center.

The approval of a replat request, and the alleged demanding manner in which the city told George L. “Buck” Harris he needed to also replat areas of the mall he did not own, is the focus of a federal lawsuit Harris filed against the city in July. Harris is claiming the city violated his due process by preventing him from pursuing development plans to turn the property into a Hispanic-themed shopping center called Plaza Central.

Despite Wednesday’s approval, Frank Hill, Harris’ attorney, said Thursday that the commission’s action “does not eliminate the damages he has suffered,” and will likely follow through with the suit.

Harris could not be reached Thursday for comment regarding the project’s status. He has said he has about 140 tenants lined up for the center.

In recent court filings, City Attorney Jay Doegey asked that Harris stay his case until the replat review process was completed because the suit was filed prematurely. In a response, Hill said, “Even if the plat is approved, there remains the question of enormous damages which my client has already incurred because of what we contend was the wrongful conduct of the City.”

Harris paid $5 million to buy the property in November 2012. The deal included the 364,000-square-foot, original mall building and the former J.C. Penney anchor store space. Others own the Dillard’s, Cinemark, and the former Macy’s and Sears locations, was well as some of the adjoining land around the former mall at the northeast corner of Texas 360 and Division Street.

In court filings, Harris said he met with city officials months before buying the property, asked about several issues, including the property plat, and was told there were no problems. Harris said it was after he bought the property, and had started more than $1.5 million in renovations, that he was told he needed to replat the property, including sections he did not own. He would also be required to obtain every other owner’s signatures on the plat.

The city halted the construction in late April, costing Harris about $10,000 a day in lost business, filings show.

The property Harris bought is part of the original Six Flags Mall plat that contained subdivided lots that not been platted, the city said in court filings. A plat is a drawing and written description of property boundaries.

The city said the replat was needed for Harris to obtain building permits and a certificate of occupancy. Harris applied for the replat on July 7. The commission approved replatting the property from two lots to four lots.

Mack Reinwand, an assistant city attorney in Arlington, said Harris did replat the property he owns and received the signatures from two lot owners of property along Galleria Drive. The lots totaled 6.8 acres.

Jim Parajon, Arlington’s Community Development and Planning Director, said a Harris representative applied for a certificate of occupancy Thursday afternoon. The property will be inspected in the next week or so, and if it passes that inspection, certificate of occupancies can be issued to tenants to begin moving in, he said.

“We haven’t been in that building in awhile,” Parajon said. “We’ll take a good look at it.”

A hearing in the federal lawsuit has not been set.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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