Friday, February 03, 2012

Unsuccessful mega-project developers continue attacks on one another

Jack May, the alpha male of the failed May Town Center concept for Bells Bend, fires a salvo at his former partners:

In an interview and court filings, the wealthy developer is accusing business partners Jeff Zeitlin and William Kantz of resorting to underhanded tactics — including secretly recording conversations with May family members and Metro Council members — in a desperate attempt to cash in despite May Town Center’s failure to win city approval ....

May described the allegations as laughable, and his family has countersued Kantz for breach of fiduciary duty and requests “severe punishment” for “malicious, fraudulent, intentional and reckless acts.” The family has not yet filed a response to Zeitlin’s lawsuit, which was filed about two months later than Kantz’s and accuses the Mays of lying to Tennessee State University and Metro when they made promises aimed at securing support for May Town Center ....

Rather than harming Zeitlin and Kantz, Jack May said, his family essentially rescued them after their own $400 million proposal ... in Bells Bend failed to win approval from the Metro Planning Commission in 2006, at a meeting where, according to the court response, Kantz testified in favor of the project without disclosing he was a partner in it.

“They were about to lose everything,” states the May family’s response to Kantz’s lawsuit. “They had exhausted their funding, had excessively leveraged the purchases that they previously made, and had no detailed plans as to how to proceed ....

So, all of these developers joined the Bells Landing Partnership, and Jack May claims to have provided the capital the other partners lacked and needed:

“We were completely dumbfounded,” May said of the lawsuits. “We have $27 million invested. They have zero money invested.”

The Mays’ response to Kantz’s lawsuit includes a 2007 memo written by Zeitlin in which he recognizes that Jack May is “the majority partner and the final decision maker” and a 2008 letter written by Kantz in which he praises Jack May’s “conclusions, approach and direction.” In the same letter Kantz asks Jack May to reimburse him for $17,000 in political contributions to Metro Council and Nashville mayoral candidates that he made on behalf of the partnership.

Huge developer contributions earmarked for local candidates for office? People testifying for the project as if they were neutral when they had a vested interest? Developers using underhanded tactics against their opponents? This is nothing less than confirmation of the warnings of May Town Center dissidents, who were not just a small group as reporter Brandon Gee writes, but included leaders from all parts of Nashville.

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