Lawsuits and insults are at the center of Hutto’s $800 million Perfect Game development, as filings have been exchanged in Williamson County District Court by the city and original master developer.
Hutto filed action on July 26 against the project’s developer, Wolverine Interests, LLC, claiming breach of contract and seeking restitution of more than $1 million for damages. Wolverine countered with a filing Aug. 26, saying it is owed at least $1 million for work performed and financial considerations for future lost revenue.
Perfect Game will be the anchor tenant for the mixed-use development at Hwy. 79 at CR 132, adjacent to Fritz Park. Sports-related amenities include 24 turf baseball fields, a 61,600-square-foot headquarters, Hall of Fame facility, batting cage pavilion, training facility, dorms, sports technology research and sports medicine research facilities. The land will include hotels, retail, restaurants and residential units.
In a phone interview with Community Impact Newspaper Wednesday night, Dallas-based attorney Blake Beckham said the city of Hutto could be on the hook for millions of dollars in lost revenue for his client, which entered into a development contract with the city on April 29, according to court filings. The countersuit claims “[Hutto City Manager] Odis Jones’ myopic actions jeopardize the entire project and could cost Hutto billions, as his misguided actions may cause Perfect Game to look elsewhere for a venue for its flagship project.”
Beckham said Wolverine remained flexible as the land purchase deals changed, which eventually led to Jones terminating the contract with Wolverine.
“He tried to fire other contractors that are doing a great job,” Beckham said. “He is running around being a bully. He has put the city at risk. He doesn’t know what he is doing.”
Jones, in a release to Community Impact Newspaper Wednesday night, said the city “will not be held hostage or extorted for cash by a group who clearly did not demonstrate the financial and intellectual capacity to perform on a project such as this.”
In the release, city officials and affiliated project partners said they had “jointly lost confidence” in Wolverine following alleged failure “to close on the land needed for the project.” Hutto decided with partners Perfect Game, Sports Facility Advisory|Sports Facilities Management to move forward with a new developer.
“The city entered into development agreements and a purchase and sale agreement with Wolverine, who failed to perform the financial activities needed to close the land and produce a master plan that meets the tax revenues necessary for the city funding requirements, which are essential components for the timely progression of the project,” city of Hutto attorney Mike Shaunessy said in the release.
Jones also said in the statement that the project will move forward with a new developer, who will be present at Hutto City Council’s Sept. 12 meeting.
Beckham maintains the city paid too much for unzoned farmland and then asked Wolverine to assume the risk before the project was under contract.
“Now, they have cut our ability to make a profit and hurt us in the industry,” Beckham said. “Without notice they breached the contract. I hope for the best for the city of Hutto. But the best would be to get a new city manager.”
Editor's note: This story has been revised to include the city's press release information that the decision to move forward was jointly agreed to with the city's partners, Perfect Game, Sports Facility Advisory|Sports Facilities Management. In addition, the city of Hutto confirmed Sept. 11 that the new Perfect Game developer would be introduced to City Council at its Sept. 19 meeting.