JEFFERSONVILLE — Litigation will be the path forward for one Jeffersonville developer and the Jeffersonville Urban Enterprise Association.
For the past several weeks, the JUEA has been in a dispute with Alan Muncy's arc over a piece of land in downtown Jeffersonville. On June 10, JUEA legal counsel Larry Wilder said that he had filed paperwork with Clark Circuit Court 2 against Muncy, the president of the development company.
"Full-blown adversarial litigation" was at first avoided in the suit, with court documents stating that JUEA reasonably believed that "Muncy's public proclamations of an interest in resolution were not merely feigned efforts to influence the jury of public opinion, but were legitimate." Instead, the JUEA asked that mediation be entered by both parties to avoid the costs of litigation. Now, Wilder says those efforts have fallen through, meaning the two parties will face off in court.
"We can confirm that we attempted to reach a settlement by mediation," Wilder told the News and Tribune in a statement. "However, the parties could not find common ground. In consideration of this fact the case will proceed through the litigation process. It seemed that both sides worked very hard to resolve their differences. Unfortunately, there are those times that folks, despite good intentions, cannot reach an amicable agreement.”
Muncy said that the JUEA seemingly wants to take back the land — a parking lot that sits near the corner of Spring and Market streets — completely.
"Obviously, we couldn’t come to an agreement," Muncy said. "From our standpoint, we’re going to move forward with our contractual obligations and develop the property. It appears as though the JUEA simply wants the property back or figure out how to get the money back that they would’ve gotten form the tax credit."
Muncy is set to build a $3.5 million multi-use development on the site, which would include apartment units and retail, after being sold the property for $1 by the JUEA.
An Urban Enterprise Zone tax credit was applied for by the JUEA, but the Jeffersonville City Council denied it. With the tax credit, the JUEA stood to receive an estimated $450,000 over a 10-year period. Without it, that revenue disappears.
Because the value in the deal, from the JUEA's perspective, stemmed from the tax credit, the JUEA is claiming that the deal should be considered "null and void," arguing that the tax credit was part of the original development agreement.
Muncy said that arc will now attempt to get the credit from the city council itself.
“We’re going to go in good faith and make the application and see if they’ll grant the credit to us," Muncy said. "If they don’t, we’ll continue to move forward with the defense of our position.”
If the tax credit application is once again denied, Muncy said his team will still move forward with development, regardless of litigation. The parking lot that currently sits on the site will still be available for use until construction begins, which Muncy said he hopes to start before the year's end.
“Once we determine our direction with the lawsuit, because we’re going to be filing counterclaims, I’m hopeful we can continue to have the lot open until we have construction come in," Muncy said.
Muncy added that he still isn't sure why arc is involved in the lawsuit, as the city council was the entity to deny the tax credit.
"I’m still a little unclear where we fall into this mix," Muncy said. "We didn’t keep them from getting any tax dollars.”
Though contractually obligated to start construction no later than the end of the year, Muncy said he'd like to get moving sooner.
“We’re going to continue to work through the process," Muncy said. "We’ve met every obligation on this contract, and we’re going to continue meeting the obligations on this development project.”