Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Tim Love seeks summary judgment in court battle over taxes

Tim Love is suing to win back tax-exempt status for his Woodshed Smokehouse restaurant along the Trinity River.
Tim Love is suing to win back tax-exempt status for his Woodshed Smokehouse restaurant along the Trinity River. Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall

Tim Love, or at least his lawyers, hope a local judge will show them some love.

The celebrity chef, who owns the popular Woodshed Smokehouse along the banks of the Trinity River, wants the judge to reject efforts by the Tarrant Appraisal District to collect property taxes on land that Love leases from the Tarrant Regional Water District for the restaurant.

Love’s lawyers will argue a summary judgment motion before state District Judge Wade Birdwell on Nov. 3 that says the taxing district “stubbornly persists” in claiming that the chef owes taxes while state laws and court decisions dictate that the 5,267-square-foot restaurant be tax-exempt.

For those of you who need to catch up: Back in 2011, Love signed a 10-year lease with the Trinity River Vision Authority, a political subdivision of the water district. The two agencies were so excited about the project it didn’t even go out for bids. The district spent about $1.1 million to build the restaurant’s shell, with Love footing the bill to finish it out.

All in all, with trailheads and retaining walls, the district spent $2.4 million on the project. As part of its partnership with Love, the district is paid rent that ranges from 4 percent to 6 percent of revenues, putting over $800,000 into the public coffer over four years.

The water district believed, since it owns the property, that it would be tax exempt, especially since it was done as part of its mission to promote development along the Trinity River. Attorneys compared it to concessions at places like DFW airport.

Not so fast, TAD officials said. They have argued that since 2012 the eclectic, light-industrial-meets-urban-fish-camp restaurant should be taxed because a large part of it is being used for a private purpose. As a result, this year TAD slapped Love with a $23,197.82 property tax bill going back for several years. Love paid the bill but is crying foul.

Love is suing the appraisal district in the water district’s name to recapture the property tax exemption and get a refund. In the summary judgment motion filed last month, Love’s attorneys argue, among other things, that state statutes not only allow for it, but override the state tax code.

“Moreover, the district’s successful use of this property will guide the future design of its Trinity River Vision and its related properties,” the motion states. “Finally, it bears noting that, since the lease was entered into, private economic and recreational areas have been developed along the river, such as the Clear Fork Trail Head, Waterside, West Bend and Left Bank.”

The arguments will be interesting. Stay tuned.

New life for Falcon Steel

Two years ago, it looked like Falcon Steel might face the fate of many other old-line U.S. manufacturers when it filed for bankruptcy.

Instead, the 53-year-old fabricator, based in Haltom City near the border with Fort Worth, is ready for a new start 17 months after exiting bankruptcy, thanks to a $30 million recapitalization that will pay for new equipment and help the company win more business, CEO Jim Taylor said.

If projections pan out, over the next 12 to 14 months the company will add 60 to 75 employees to its workforce of about 300 in Haltom City, Euless and Kaufman, Taylor told us in an interview.

“As we win jobs, we look for fitters and welders,” said Taylor, a turnaround expert who came in as a restructuring consultant and took over as CEO two years ago. “We will put on a second shift and expand as soon as we fill up the first shift.”

The company makes lattice towers, poles and substation structures for electric utilities such as Oncor and Centerpoint. It also supplies metal structures to hold highway signs throughout the state, and other pieces such as sculptures at Grapevine Mills mall and stairways at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The financial injection came from Dallas investment firms ReignRock Capital Partners and Inverdale Capital Management, plus a line of credit from Chase Bank. In a nice twist, the money bought out 24 shareholders, mostly managers at the company, who made it through a bankruptcy reorganization that gave the company time to find new investors to pay off creditors.

The company was renamed Falcon Steel America, and Taylor plans to capitalize on its position as a U.S. manufacturer. “When on-time delivery is critical, geographic and cultural proximity are major benefits,” he said in a statement. “American-made products also stand for quality — which is exactly what our reputation is built on.”

Tapas in Terminal A

Need some prickly pear baby back ribs before your flight?

Starting this week, you can pick them up at Lorena Garcia Tapas y Cocina at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport’s Terminal A near gate 33.

The celebrity chef, who has appeared on Top Chef and The Biggest Loser, partnered with HMSHost to open the restaurant that will offer tapas, entrees and cocktails.

“As a global superhub, we are expanding our concessions program to offer a variety of world-class cuisine and healthy options to satisfy any taste,” said Chris Poinsatte, the airport’s chief financial officer. “We know our DFW Airport customers will enjoy the vivacious flavors that are the hallmark of Chef Garcia’s Latin dishes.”

The restaurant’s menu includes char-grilled churrasco steak, queso fundido and ropa vieja and will have a selection of local Texas wines.

Linbeck moving to Rosedale

Linbeck, which has built many signature buildings in Fort Worth over the years, has put up a new home for itself.

The construction firm is moving its Fort Worth office from the 18th floor of the Wells Fargo Tower downtown to a new office building at 1263 Rosedale Ave. in the Medical District.

The new location will have about 7,200 square feet, about 40 percent more than the old office. The 25 employees plan to move by October.

“After 30 years downtown, this location allows for growth and the opportunity to better serve our clients, trade partners, and the community,” Mark Linenberger, general manager of Linbeck Group, said in a statement. “Fort Worth South is a vibrant business environment and we look forward to being here for equally as long as we were downtown.”

Linbeck’s list of construction projects in Fort Worth is long and noteworthy, including the Bass Performance Hall, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame, the Amon Carter Museum, the Worthington Hotel and Sundance West.

It also built the City Center Towers complex, including the Wells Fargo Tower, where Linbeck’s Fort Worth office is now.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko