$130 Million Land Sale Not Quite Dead
by Sito Negron
Posted on March 18, 2008
After a tense couple of weeks in which the city and Hunt Communities each deflected blame for the collapse of a $130 million sale of PSB land in Northeast El Paso, it looks like some air has been pumped back into the deal.
The council voted after an executive session briefing Tuesday to give the deal 45 days. The next council meeting after the 45 days is May 6, said District 2 Rep. Susie Byrd, who called the contract postponement a "standstill agreement." Byrd has been working with a committee on land use issues that recently passed a set of recommendations for new rules, which possibly could be used on the Northeast land. [march 14, 2008 npt background] [november, 2006, npt background]
The lack of such rules was cited by Hunt in a letter in which the company stated it was pulling out of the deal. [march 6, 2008 hunt halts land sale] [march 7, 2008 hunt-byrd letters]
The letter was sent two weeks ago, after City Council voted not to grant the company's request to delay closing until July. However, final legal action to terminate the agreement apparently never happened.
Mayor John Cook said Tuesday's vote for the 45-day delay "gives us room to negotiate. That's the time we need to see if there's any way to save the deal."
He said the items that are "non-negotiable" are "the number of acres to be sold, the price per acre is not negotiable and the amount of land that has to be set aside for parks and open space is not negotiable."
Cook said the lead negotiators for the city and the El Paso Water Utilities, which is overseen by the PSB, are City Manager Joyce Wilson, City Attorney Charlie McNabb, and Water Utilities General Manager Ed Archuleta, attorney Bob Andron, and Assistant General Manager Nick Costanzo.
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