In lawsuit, Plano developer offers account of how Collin Creek Mall deal fell apart

One possible plan to redevelop Plano's ailing Collin Creek Mall depicts a sized-down retail center supplemented by mixed-use concepts and a man-made riverwalk feature.

One possible plan to redevelop Plano's ailing Collin Creek Mall depicts a sized-down retail center supplemented by mixed-use concepts and a man-made riverwalk feature.

For months, owners of various properties at Plano's ailing Collin Creek Mall have been silent publicly about outside efforts to purchase and redevelop the mall, even as surveyors and consulting firms in recent weeks have been seen inspecting the site.

But developer Sam Ware, who had stepped forward earlier this year as the sole buyer interested in redeveloping the mall before the deal fell through by early May, is now suing the bank that he says had agreed to finance the multimillion-dollar project.

In a lawsuit filed July 26 in the 134th District Court of Dallas County, Ware's company Dreien Opportunity Partners accused Frontier State Bank of undermining the deal and possibly working with owners of the mall’s various properties and a third-party developer to facilitate a separate offer. The lawsuit, which does not offer evidence that the property owners were working with the bank or other parties, states that documents made public in the discovery process could support Ware’s suspicions.

Frontier State Bank on Wednesday declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit. Property owners at Collin Creek Mall have not spoken publicly since May on the status of negotiations.

“We don’t comment on active litigation,” said Joe Bonner, president and CEO of the Oklahoma-based bank. He declined to say whether the bank was involved in any current negotiations to acquire the property.

Meanwhile, consulting companies were seen on site surveying and otherwise inspecting the property in recent weeks, including PJB Surveying, an Allen-based company that did not reply to requests for comment.

A sale falls through

Although Ware declined to comment for this story on advice from his attorney, the lawsuit filing asserts he had entered into sale and purchase agreements with the mall's various property owners. The lawsuit accuses Frontier State Bank of agreeing in some form to finance the project, then unilaterally changing the terms of the deal.

As part of the terms of the agreement, Ware says in the filing, Dreien Opportunity Partners provided the bank with confidential information about the development firm's plans for the property. The bank, Ware claims, tried to involve other third-party developers in the process on multiple occasions, and may have shared confidential information about the plans with those parties.

The lawsuit represents Ware's most detailed public account of the setbacks his plan has suffered since early May, when mall tenants were notified that Dreien and the property owners had failed to reach an agreement by the end of the timeline outlined in the initial purchase agreement. Tenants of the property were notified of the missed deadline in a letter from Dallas-based commercial real estate company CBRE, which manages the property.

“As you have likely heard, the sale of the Collin Creek Mall was not completed pursuant to the timeline required in the original purchase and sale agreement,” reads the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Community Impact Newspaper. “As a result, ownership is providing the opportunity to purchase the Mall to numerous additional parties who have expressed interest in buying the Mall.”

National Retail Properties, owner of the property that houses Amazing Jake's entertainment venue, denied the management company’s claim that the company’s portion of the mall would soon be listed again. The company said in May that it did not have immediate plans to offer the property to other buyers.

“It’s not our intent to market it again,” National Retail Partners spokesperson Chris Barry said at the time. “It comes back to our ownership and the status quo.”

Barry has declined to comment further on the transaction or the lawsuit on multiple occasions since, including most recently on Wednesday.

Calls to three members of the mall’s management staff went unreturned. J.C. Penney and Macy’s did not return emails requesting comment on the lawsuit.

Read the full lawsuit filing here.


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