Owner of Tiny But Valuable Plot at Omni Hotel Tells City Hall: $182,000 Just Ain't Enough

1027_omni_hearing10.jpg
Via WFAA-Channel 8
When the city-owned Omni Hotel had its grand-opening photo op the other day, everything seemed in place, right down to the giant ribbon and the past-due TV stars. But there's one little speck of cement that the city's still fighting over -- and its sparring partner isn't going down easily.

The story's been well told thus far by The News and WFAA: The parcel in question, 2,500 square feet of cement near the hotel, was owned long ago by a woman named Hazel McClain. In the 1980s, former mayor Robert Folsom started snapping up land in the area, and he wanted McClain's piece, too. For whatever reason she wouldn't sell, but she did agree to lease it to him -- for 99 years.

Now the city wants it, and it's trying to take it through eminent domain. McClain is dead, but her daughter Carolyn apparently learned to dig in her heels like Mom. She's fighting the city at every turn, and for good reason: The lease has reportedly paid her family $800,000 over its life, including $40,000 last year alone. She claims the land is now worth $2.5 million.

The News has reported that there's a clause that would allow Folsom out of the deal, but for whatever reason he's never acted on it. But that clause seems to be driving the offers McClain is getting: The city offered $300,000. When McClain turned that down, a panel of three court-appointed commissioners told the city it should pay even less: $182,000. The city promptly cut a check and took down the fence surrounding the property.

But that's not the end of it: As I spoke yesterday with McClain's lawyer, Jim McCown, he had a courier delivering to the courthouse the document on display below, which outlines McClain's many objections to the ruling. It calls the city's offer "grossly inadequate" and claims the city has no right to take it anyway, since the project isn't for the public good.

McCown said he hopes the two sides can continue negotiating on their own. If they don't make progress, the legal process takes over, and lots of both your money and McClain's disappears into the finely pressed pockets of various lawyers.

Although there is another solution: Twenty-five-hundred square feet sounds like enough room for a bunch of homeless revolutionaries, does it not?

Dallas vs. Carolyn McClain


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22 comments
Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Am I the only one who thinks it would be hilarious if the Occupy Dallas people moved onto this piece of heaven?

What better example of a corporate hussle?

Rangers100
Rangers100

The tyranny of the individual.

Seize it.

Jeeze Louise
Jeeze Louise

Slightly OT, but have I missed the discussion here about THOSE LIGHTS on the hotel?  

Guest
Guest

$1,000 per square foot seems overly optimistic. That's nearly ten times what the city paid for the convention center hotel land.

The $300,000 previously offered is more in-line with what the city overpaid to get the convention center hotel land.

BubbaBGood2U
BubbaBGood2U

What I want to know is what info did Robert Folsom have back in the 80's for him to want to buy this land and pay this lady such big money for such a little piece of property.  Did he know that in the city long range plan they would some day build a convention hotel there or that someone would build one there.  Was there some inside information he had that helped him make millions off this land like when he got elected in the 80's so he could have Renner annexed by the city of Dallas so he could make millions off the city paying for the infrastructure for this land to be developed.  Someone needs to investigate Robert Folsom.

Ed D.
Ed D.

The parking lot the hotel was built on was worth $45 million to the city, and it was on the tax rolls for a heck of a lot less than that. Apply the same multiplier to this property's assessed value and, voilà, nobody is completely happy and thus it's the perfect compromise.Or, you know, we could pretend property rights still existed for average citizens.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Let me wedge a comment in here between the DCAD fans.

That looks like a nice size for a food truck.  Dallas loves food trucks, right?

Mike
Mike

It's not illegal to ask for lower valuation regardless of the appraisal.  It's your right.  It's also your right not to offer particular evidence not in support of your claim.  It is illegal to make testimony that is altered from the facts or is false in response to direct questions from the board.  It's an adversarial relationship.  If the board feels data was insufficient, they can reject it and it goes to a real court.

What evidence do you have that the owner falsely testified under oath regarding the property?

Anon
Anon

Can we aggregate the stories like this where property owners publicly declare what they believe their properties to be worth and then calculate how much they are fleecing the city in property taxes? Can we do it in the CBD alone? She claims this property is worth 18x the amount on the books at DCAD.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Whats it on the tax rolls for, Ive searched but dont know the address for this plot

Montemalone
Montemalone

Is Bob ever gonna say why he wrote that lease in the first place? That's the story I want to hear.

gabbahey
gabbahey

Uh, buddy, it's covered in grass now, no more concrete in that parcel.

Jean Val Jean
Jean Val Jean

It depends. Does Austin still  thinkg Food Trucks are hip? If so, then yes, Dallas lovese food trucks.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

hey this isnt city of ate, Joe Tone wont be happy you brought up foodie stuff over here (sarcarsm folks). also I like your use of "wedge" when speaking of food. someone go get me a potato

Guest
Guest

There is a theory under the law by which a party cannot successfully take a factual position in one legal proceeding (e.g. my property is worth less than $100,000) and take the opposite view in another legal proceeding (e.g. my property is worth more than $1,000,000).  It's desined to keep people honest in their dealings.  It should apply here. 

At a minimum, the owner's claims that the property was worth less than a certain amount is an admission that should be considered as evidence.  It doesn't matter if it was under oath or not.   

Mike
Mike

Unless she has concealed something contrary to the law or given false testimony, she is not fleecing anyone.  I'm not going to run to DCAD and say I want to pay more on my unit.  No logical person would.

Guest
Guest

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley is currently doing what you say should apply in this case.

He went on for six years claiming in court that a bloody bandana found near a crime scene was irrelevant to the crime and should not be tested for DNA. He also said there were chain of evidence problems with the bandana.

The appeals courts ultimately approved the testing, and now John Bradley, in building his case against a new defendant, is claiming that the bloody bandana is incredibly relevant to the crime and that there were no chain of evidence issues.

You think John Bradley will be punished under this theory of the law?

Mike
Mike

So I assume you do not have any evidence of any misrepresentations? Just guessing? Do you have any idea what was stated at any of the appraisal hearings? Were there any hearings? What was DCAD's position? Do not know? Thought so.

Anon
Anon

She protested her tax valuation, meaning she made false representations or otherwise misled DCAD about the value of he property. If the property is producing that much rental income, its value is vastly under-reported.Alternatively, the property is worth closer to what she represented to DCAD, and the city isn't really offering an unreasonable amount of money.It's not up to anyone to tell DCAD to increase their property value on the tax rolls, but if you tell them it's worth less so that they will lower the taxable value when you privately believe it to be worth much much more, that's illegal.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

grazi, in that case, they are offering her more for it than the books, and if she still thinks its worth more, well then raise the valuation, im sure dallas could use some extra tax revenue.  But I dont blame her for trying, I mean seriously, this land is probably worth more to the city in their hands, than it is to this lady who wont do anything with it

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