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$14.5 Million Settles Suit Over Texas Development

FORT WORTH (CN) - The former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball club has settled a $14.5 million lawsuit by a real estate developer over the failed Glorypark Town Center mixed-use development that was to be built between Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Cowboys Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

On Monday, state District Judge Melody Wilkinson signed an order of dismissal announcing the settlement between Columbus, Ohio-based developer SEG of Ohio Inc., formerly known as Steiner + Associates Inc., and defendant Tom Hicks, of Dallas, and several of entities he controlled. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

According to the complaint, Steiner was approached in 2004 to help develop the areas around the suburban baseball park. In October 2004, the Cowboys entered into an agreement with the Rangers regarding development of their new football stadium, its parking facilities that are in close proximity to the Rangers ballpark and property surrounding the ballpark, with Steiner working on a master plan.

In March 2005, Steiner and Hicks-owned entity Ballpark Real Estate LP entered into a joint venture memorandum of understanding to form a partnership to co-own and co-develop a mixed-use development adjacent to the ballpark on land owned by the City of Arlington. Steiner said that for over a year, it and Steiner-owned subsidiary Arlingtonpar LLC contributed more than $6 million in cash and $6 million in development services to the partnership and asked BRE to enter into a definitive partnership agreement, only to be told "not to worry."

In May 2008, Hicks abruptly announced the Glorypark project would be delayed and put on hold.

Steiner said that by this point, it had already entered into development and finance agreements with the city, lease agreements with the city over parking and executed leases for more than 108,000 square feet of space and negotiated letters of intent for additional space at the project.

"This announcement was made by Hicks Holdings LLC without any input from Steiner or Arlingtonpar as to the decision or the content of the press release announcing the decision," the complaint stated. "Prior to making the announcement, Hicks Holdings LLC began discussions with a competitor of Steiner and Arlingtonpar to develop the land. These discussions occurred without Arlingtonpar's or Steiner's consent or knowledge."

The plaintiffs said that the announcement was made days before an international shopping center retail convention took place in Las Vegas, leaving them to "confront the rumors and aftermath" of the defendants' abrupt decision to halt the project.

Steiner said that in August 2008, Hicks Glorypark LLC, as general partner of Glorypark Town Center LP, took out a $12.5 million loan and used the property as collateral without its approval or consent. "To date, Ballpark Real Estate LP and Hicks Glorypark LLC have refused and failed to contribute to the property as agreed," the complaint stated.

"Additionally, Ballpark Real Estate LP and Hicks Glorypark LLC have improperly encumbered the property with liabilities for loans taken out by Hicks Glorypark LLC and not by the partnership."

Making his fortune in leveraged buyouts, Hicks also formerly owned the Dallas Stars hockey club of the National Hockey League and co-owned Liverpool F.C. of the English Premier League. His tenure at all three clubs were plagued with fan outrage over a perceived lack of investment in players, high debt loads and chronically poor on-field performance.

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