The company behind the stalled development at 4217 Swiss Ave. is suing the City of Dallas in federal court for revoking its permit.
Last month, a stop-work order was put on the partially constructed property after the Peak’s Addition Homeowners Association (PAHA) took the city and the Board of Adjustment to court and won. PAHA argued that the permit issued to build the mixed-use development violated the residential proximity slope for the historic area, meaning the building was too tall and too close to the street.
Encore Enterprises is the parent company of EMF Swiss Avenue LLC, who is the plaintiff in the case. EMF argues that the permit was legally obtained, and that the judge did not require to city to stop the work. Jonathan Rector, corporate counsel for Encore Enterprises, wrote in a statement to the Advocate: “The city made the irrational and unnecessary decision to issue a stop work order, making a mockery of the well-established process for obtaining approval for development in Dallas and sets a dangerous precedent if it is allowed to stand.”
EMF says that developers should be wary of a city that issues permits and then revokes them.
EMF is currently appealing the stop-work order and the state court’s decision appealing the ruling, but also faces opposition from two councilmen, who have joined the case against Encore. The legal team for PAHA says that continuing construction on the structure would be foolish, especially if the city eventually rules that the residential proximity slope requires the building to be partially or completely taken down. Mike Northrup, one of the lawyers for PAHA, told the Dallas Morning News that the newest federal suit “seems desperate.”
The plaintiff said that it had no choice but to take this case to federal court in order to continue the construction, as the appeals will take time. Rector writes, “If this situation stands it means city permits are meaningless and all developers in Dallas proceed at their own risk. The city’s action has also deprived the property of its economically viable use and value, and federal court is the appropriate venue for the remedy EMF seeks.”
EMF says that the city was right to issue the permits, and the Board of Adjustment was right to approve them and is now taking action in federal court to get the project back on track. They say the project is “consistent with the recommendation of every urban planner on the planet” and that their project is about making the city better and worries that blue collar workers have now lost their paycheck.
“This project is ultimately about making Dallas a better place,” Rector writes. “It’s designed to bring desperately needed high-quality but reasonably priced rental housing to the city’s core.”
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