January 3, 2014

Six Flags Mall owner sues real estate firm

The owner says The Woodmont Co. withheld information about the condition of mechanical systems that would have altered the $5 million deal.

A former Fort Worth antique dealer who last year bought Six Flags Mall in Arlington with plans to turn the largely vacant property into an Hispanic-themed shopping center has returned to court, alleging that a real estate company failed to tell him about the poor condition of the mall’s mechanical systems.

George Harris filed the suit Thursday in state district court against The Woodmont Co., alleging that the real estate firm purposefully didn’t give him access to inspect the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems until the sales contract reached a point that he could not be refunded $150,000 in earnest money.

After repeated requests, Harris was finally given access, only to learn that it would cost about $1 million in repairs or about $2 million to replace the systems and that the mall had flooded at some point, causing black mold, the suit says.

The Woodmont Co., the suit says, “knew the condition of the property” and had Harris known, he “would have either walked away from the deal or negotiated a lower selling price to reflect the repairs needed.”

Harris paid $5 million in November to the International Bank of Commerce to buy the original 364,000-square-foot mall building and the former J.C. Penney anchor space at Texas 360 and Division Street. Six Flags Mall opened in 1970. The Bank of Commerce foreclosed on the property in 2008.

Stephen Coslik, Woodmont’s chairman, said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. Harris could not be reached for comment. He is seeking $100,000 to $200,000 in relief, the suit says.

In July, Harris sued Arlington in federal court, saying the city violated his due process by preventing him from pursuing development plans. That lawsuit is still pending.

In September, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved Harris’ plans and gave him the go-ahead to file for building permits for the project, called Plaza Central.

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