A caustic courthouse conflict over $170 million lent for the Perkins Rowe mixed-use project may end Tuesday, a judge’s order shows.
The three-year-old dispute between KeyBank National Association, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Baton Rouge developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa has been stuck in a standoff since October. That’s when U.S. District Judge James J. Brady stripped Spinosa and his Perkins Rowe companies of all their defenses and counterclaims against KeyBank’s demand for $170 million.
That ruling handed KeyBank, which has Spinosa’s personal guaranty on the debt, the option to seek a final judgment. That judgment would authorize a foreclosure sale of the property’s 229 apartments and the buildings that house more than 60 shops and restaurants, as well as other businesses and offices.
But Spinosa retained control of a chilled-water company that supplies air conditioning to those same structures.
KeyBank did not ask Brady for permission to initiate sale of Perkins Rowe until last month.
The judge ordered Spinosa and his Perkins Rowe companies to file a response to KeyBank’s motion no later than July 31. Spinosa, however, announced this week that he “and KeyBank are currently involved in extensive settlement negotiations that may render KeyBank’s motion moot.”
Through his lead attorney, Mark R. Beebe, Spinosa told Brady: “KeyBank has agreed to a seven-day extension of the … deadline.”
If settlement negotiations break down, Spinosa told the judge, he could file a response by Tuesday to KeyBank’s motion for final judgment.
Brady granted Spinosa’s request this week and moved the filing deadline to Tuesday.
Settlement of the dispute between KeyBank and Spinosa would avoid months, possibly years, of additional court action.
Beebe, Spinosa’s attorney, said in October that any final judgment awarded by Brady to KeyBank would kickstart appellate action by Spinosa.
“The Perkins Rowe defendants will have the right to appeal the district court’s decisions,” Beebe said at the time. “Perkins Rowe will have excellent grounds upon which to base its appeal.”
Throughout the bitter battle, KeyBank spokeswoman Laura J. Mimura has repeatedly stated that the court fight has not affected the bustling businesses near the intersection of Perkins Road and Bluebonnet Boulevard.
Mimura repeated last month: “The day-to-day operations of businesses and condominiums within Perkins Rowe have remained strong throughout this process.”
And both Beebe and Spinosa have stated, regardless of Brady’s eventual final decision, indoor air at Perkins Rowe will remain cool. Apartment dwellers, condominium owners and operators of shops, restaurants and other businesses will not lose their air-conditioning as long as they continue to pay their bills for use of chilled water, the attorney and developer said.
“Anybody who is paying their bill, just like with any other utility, we would continue their water,” Spinosa said last month.
“Our residents and commercial tenants don’t have anything to worry about.”