Developer sues MDHA over MCC appraisals

Tower wants access to reports city officials promised to share

UPDATE 4:40 p.m.: MDHA spokeswoman Terri Woodmore has responded to Tower's lawsuit by saying, “The petition’s characterizations of our conversations with Tower are inaccurate and we will answer these allegations in court.”

As originally reported:

Saying city officials acted in bad faith, Tower Investments filed suit against the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency Wednesday, seeking access to appraisals of a key piece of the convention center property.

Tower's complaint filed in Davidson County Chancery Court seeks records of property appraisals MDHA asked for on Tower's 5.6-acre tract at 301 Fifth Ave. S., by far the largest piece of property MDHA wants to condemn for the $635 million Music City Center.

Tower is asking MDHA to “show cause” as to why the appraisal records, requested Oct. 16, have yet to be released and to demonstrate why the agency is not violating the state open-records law. View the suit here.

“MDHA agreed to give us copies of the appraisals once they were complete,” said Alex Marks, Tower’s senior vice president.

Marks said his group took the “unusual” step of granting access to confidential company financial records with the understanding that, in exchange, Tower would get copies of all three appraisals.

“We did our part,” Marks said.

In September, Joe Cain, MDHA development director, sent what the complaint calls “a ridiculously low offer” to Tower officials, saying it was based on the lowest of the three appraisals.

“However, he conveniently neglected to furnish a copy of the low appraisal or the two higher appraisals when he sent the offer to purchase,” according to the complaint.

Tower’s attorney, Joe Conner, filed an open-records request for the appraisal records Oct. 16. The same day, MDHA began eminent-domain proceedings against Tower in Chancery Court, offering $14.8 million for the property — almost the exact price Tower paid in 2007. (The site's official 2008 tax-appraised value was $12.5 million.)

“This is part of a process we are going through to get fair-market value for our property,” Marks said. “It’s basically a Freedom of Information Act request. They are keeping information they agreed to give us.”

A response by MDHA’s attorney, G. Brian Jackson, to the original open-records request claims the appraisals are privileged because they were prepared in anticipation of the eminent-domain lawsuit. Jackson on Wednesday afternoon said he had no further comment on the matter at this time. MDHA officials could not be reached.