Arlington investors sue charter school over failed property deal

Posted Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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An Arlington real estate investment group says Dallas-based Uplift Education breached its contract when it backed out of a deal to buy a former antique mall location on Lamar Boulevard and didn’t make a $152,500 payment on the deal in October.

The Hangover Opportunity Fund sued the North Texas charter school system this week in state court in Tarrant County. According to the suit, the fund signed a deal in April to buy the 4.4-acre property at 1715 E. Lamar Blvd. from Iskander & Sons of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Iskander has owned the 29-year-old building, a 41,680-square-foot former grocery last used as Arlington Antique Mall, since 1989.

In July, the fund assigned its purchase agreement to Uplift Education, which was supposed to close the deal Oct. 15 and make the payment two days later, the suit alleges. Instead, Uplift Education sent a letter dated Oct. 17 saying it would not buy the property nor make the payment, the suit says.

Ann Stevenson, Uplift’s chief administrative officer, said the school backed out of the deal because of issues with the property’s title and other deed restrictions that were not resolved. The school would not have been able to keep its construction schedule to complete work to open by August 2014, she said.

Uplift Education wanted to expand and use the location for a kindergarten through fifth-grade school, Stevenson said. It would have been a feeder school to Uplift Summit International Preparatory School nearby on Center Street, now a kindergarten through 12th-grade campus, she said. Uplift opened the campus in 2007 on the site of the former Country Day School.

Hangover Opportunity Fund said Thursday it recently closed its deal to buy the property, which the Tarrant Appraisal District values at $2.3 million. The fund seeks the $152,500 missed payment, the suit said.

Gary Walker, president of SCM Real Estate Services in Arlington and managing partner of SkyWalker Property Partners, the managing member of Hangover Opportunity Fund, said a variance to deed restrictions was obtained to allow the property to be used as a school.

“They’re a great organization,” Walker said of Uplift. “But they left us at the alter. They left us really in a lurch. I never heard a reason why.”

Renee Efimoff of SCM Real Estate, who represented the fund, said the property will be marketed for an entertainment or school use. “There aren’t a lot of big-box spaces with that kind of parking in this area,” she said in a statement.

SkyWalker Property said it will put in new landscaping, a new roof and mechanical systems, and redesign the brick exterior.

Started in 2010, the $100 million Hangover Opportunity Fund has a portfolio of office, industrial, residential and retail properties in Texas and surrounding states. Mike Nix with ReMax Associates Commercial represented the seller.

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

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