Baker Ahles & Kaskovich

January 1, 2014

Frank Kent owners plan wine bar on Magnolia

Also, the Archbishop of Canterbury criticizes Cash America’s British payday loan unit.

A few months ago, Frank Kent Motor Co. in Fort Worth announced that it had purchased an 8,000-square-foot building at the northeast corner of Magnolia Avenue and Adams Street on the city’s near south side, but wouldn’t say why.

Now we know.

According to plans filed with the city, Will Churchill and Corrie Watson, Frank Kent Motor’s owners, will transform the nondescript building at 1101 W. Magnolia Ave. into a two-story wine bar called Kent & Co. Wines.

A rendering with the plans shows a car in a showroom-like setting in the northwest corner of the building, , and a kitchen, bar and seating areas on the first floor. A brick valet area will be added to the west side of the building with a breezeway to the main structure, and a covered attached patio for seating will be built on the east side of the structure, the plans show.

The project is scheduled to be presented to the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission Monday, Jan. 13. Fort Worth South, the nonprofit south side development district, and Fairmount Neighborhood Association, support the project, according to the filing.

Frank Kent Motor, founded in 1935 by Frank Kent, is now run by his great-grandchildren. It sells Hondas and Cadillacs.

Archbishop of Canterbury

takes on payday lending

In Texas, Fort Worth-based Cash America has its local state senator (and governor hopeful) Wendy Davis aggressively attacking its payday lending practices.

But that pales in comparison to what Quick Quid, Cash America’s payday unit in Britain, is facing: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of millions of Anglicans, known in the U.S. as Episcopalians.

This is no ordinary cleric. The Most Reverend Justin Welby was a senior oil industry executive before changing careers. Today, he also is a member of the U.K. parliamentary commission on banking standards.

Welby has lashed out at Quick Quid and its homegrown rivals like Wonga (slang for “money”), saying their high rates of interest create a spiral of debt. Not only has he attacked the lenders, he has offered credit unions space on church property to make low-interest loans.

In an interview, Welby said he told the head of Wonga: “We’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence.”

In Cash America’s last quarterly report, the lender made no mention of Welby, but disclosed it was beginning to feel the heat from banking reform proposals.

It warned investors that if certain proposed regulations are adopted, Quick Quid would have to change its collection process, possibly resulting in lower amounts and fewer customers approved for loans. The provisions, which will be finalized early this year and enforced from April 1, would likely raise Cash America’s compliance costs in the UK, the company added.

If nothing else, the Fort Worth firm might take comfort in recent discomfort felt by its arch-critic, the Archbishiop of Canterbury, whose church claims to have an ethical investment policy.

Welby, in an interview with BBC radio, confirmed that the Church of England still has $124,000 indirectly invested in Wonga through Accel Partners, a U.S. venture capital firm. He admitted he was “embarrassed” and “irritated” by the revelations, London’s The Independent reported.

Last week, Davis called on a vice president of Cash America to step down as chairman of the Texas Finance Commission, a state watchdog commission that oversees lending institutions.

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