Irving Comes to a Decision on Long Debated Project

Council member Dennis Webb states his opinion on the reimbursement and the ARK Group. (Image: Rachel Hawkins/NDG)
Council member Dennis Webb states his opinion on the reimbursement and the ARK Group. 

By Rachel Hawkins

After months of arguing and fighting over the definition of complete, the City of Irving has finally come to a conclusion on the financial decision to the ARK Group. The Irving City Council members disapproved Resolution – Authorizing Reimbursement Payment in the Amount of $44,000,000 to the ARK Group of Irving, Inc. for Capital Infrastructure Improvements Within the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. One, during a city council meeting on Oct. 4.

Before the item failed to pass, councilmember Dennis Webb explained his reasoning on why the ARK Group should receive the award.

“This is my seventh and a half year of being involved in the entertainment center,” Webb said. “My concern and the reason why I put this (the item) on the agenda is that there’s a lot of people that love this venue. There’s a lot of people in other cities that would love to have this model in their city. We are spending a lot of time in our city, haggling over this $44 million dollar in TIF (Tax increment financing) money that is contractually owed to this developer. I know of some residents in the city who do not want ARK to get the money at all, and some of the motivations we hear is based on that.”

Webb stated what’s best for the City of Irving and the entertainment center is how to spend less effort in energy in time with the $44 million dollar reimbursement and try to figure out how to help the people at the entertainment center and their businesses.

“For me, I’m satisfied that the building and the project is complete enough for me, and I’m only speaking for myself,” Webb said. “I’ve heard people say it’s not complete. The word complete been defined and redefined again by this council. I guaranteed you if you were to ask the council six months ago what the word complete meant it’s a totally different definition today. So when people talk about it’s not complete, the thing you got to understand is that it may not be complete in your minds in your way of thinking in some of the simple analogies we make, but at the end of the day, it is this council that decides if it is complete.”

At the previous city council meeting, the council members were told there was one item left on the list for the project to be considered complete. It is concrete floors at a storefront at the Sambuca building.

It was also said the TIF board is not in control of the decision since they are an advisory board which makes a decision and then sends a recommendation to the council who then makes the decision.

Many representatives of the ARK Group spoke on the issue, including Noah Lazes, co-founder and president of the ARK Group.

“We’ve ensured every contractor and subcontractor who worked on the project has been paid,” Lazes said. “Even those left unpaid by the same group that spent $23 million dollars of city money without resolve has been paid. We have paid all of our bills and completed every city request, even request not required by agreements. It’s hard to imagine what more a city could want from their development partner.”

Lazes also stated the lengthy delay of providing the agreed reimbursement is self-inflicting severe damage to the Irving project. He also said continuing to delay the project gives others the chance to tarnish it.

“We’ve honored all of our agreements, and we only ask that the city vote to do the same here tonight,” Lazes said. “It is time to get this behind us and move forward as unified partners.

The councilmembers then broke into a 30-minute executive session with their lawyers to propose a new amendment.

The new amended resolution stated Upon verification by Gary Miller, city inspections director that the following improvements have been completed in the D1 Sambuca space according to the current approve building plans. City staff is authorized to make reimbursement payment in the amount of $44 million dollars to the ARK Group of Irving Inc. for capital infrastructure improvements within the tax reimbursement zone 1.

The amendment resolution and the original resolution both failed to pass with a 5 to 4 vote.

Editor’s note: NDG reached out to the mayor to request a comment earlier this week and have not received a response.

This article originally appeared in the North Dallas Gazette.

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