First day of U.L. Coleman vs. Bossier City trial wraps

First day of U.L. Coleman vs. Bossier City trial wraps

BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Developer U.L. Coleman Company (ULCC) and some Bossier City leaders spent nearly all of Thursday in federal court for a bench trial.

ULCC is arguing the city has violated their lawsuit settlement agreed to in 2012.

In court Thursday, three witnesses were called to testify: President of UL Coleman Company, U.L. Coleman, Land Architect Todd Meyer who wrote the initial plan to redevelop South Bossier, and Bossier City Project Manager Mike McSwain.

ULCC sued Bossier City in 2008 after being denied direct access to the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway. The company wanted it for their planned apartment complex, that has yet to be built.

As part of the settlement, improvements are supposed to be made to the South Bossier area. But at the center of issue in court Thursday, is what South Bossier will look like in the future. Each side has very different visions and ULCC is saying Bossier City's plan to redevelop the area isn't good enough. 
As a result, they are claiming Bossier City has violated the lawsuit settlement.

When developer UL Coleman and Bossier City settled their lawsuit in 2012, they agreed on three projects: A park, pedestrian bridge, and to redevelop South Bossier.

The first two are checked off the list, but now ULCC feels the city's plan to redevelop South Bossier is not complete, calling it a "conceptual plan."

The developer also argued in court, the city is not allocating enough money to make the redevelopment districts a reality. They also claim because the city is "doing as little as required to do by the court" they are essentially killing their proposed Walker Place development and in turn saving 10.4 million dollars in infrastructure costs.

In court Thursday, Coleman testified that city leaders haven't been collaborative with him, "it's been a terrible process" Coleman said.

Coleman believes the city's implementation plan to redevelop South Bossier, "is not workable," he said in court.

ULCC sees Bossier City's actions as a breach of their agreement and asking the judge to sanction the city, and award damages, attorney's fees, and costs.

On the other side, Bossier City argues they have followed the settlement agreement in good faith. According to court documents, the city says they've faced "a constant barrage of accusations whenever Coleman felt he was not getting his way." They argue disagreements over the redevelopment plan does not equal a breach of their agreement.

When it comes to the redevelopment plan, the city argues Coleman has no right" to argue his recommendations are better.

In response to Coleman alleging a lack of cooperation, the city's attorney team responded in a court document saying any delays in the redevelopment district process were Coleman's missing target dates for his comments.

"Never once has the City refused to review and/or consider Coleman's comments with regard to the Redevelopment Districts" the document cited.

Court documents state the city spent almost triple its $1 million obligation for the park under the cooperative endeavor agreement.

"As the Court knows, Coleman provided substantive comments to those plans which were included in the construction of both the park and the pedestrian bridge, which are now nearly complete at a cost of over five million to the City."

As far as the allegations of not enough funding, city project manager Mike McSwain testified in court, the city has allocated $1.6 M in the yet-to-be approved 2016 budget for infrastructure improvements in South Bossier.

The city argues ULCC is asking the court, "to take the project backwards by reopening the SWA Final Plan and wasting all the work, time and money expended over the last year on the Redevelopment Districts which are ready to be enacted now."

The bench trial will continue tomorrow at 9 a.m. where more witnesses will testify and could possibly continue into Monday.

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