A Jackson County judge gleefully approved a mediated settlement Tuesday to a contentious lawsuit over the potential redevelopment of the Parade Park Homes residential complex near the 18th and Vine Jazz District.
“I’m just very happy it’s all worked out,” Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff told lawyers for both sides in the lawsuit. “I wish Parade Park Homes all the best.”
The settlement seeks to end a fierce argument among residents over a proposed $76 million redevelopment plan for the complex, a 510-unit affordable housing cooperative located between Truman Road and 18th Street and between Woodland and Brooklyn avenues.
It is one of the nation’s oldest African-American housing cooperatives, dating from the 1960s, and now has significant costly repairs that need to be done.
Although many residents liked the redevelopment plan and said the cooperative had to be modernized, others feared it would gentrify their neighborhood and price them out of their homes.
Any future development for the complex remains to be determined.
The lawsuit was filed in April by four longtime Parade Park Homes residents. They challenged the co-op board’s governance and sought to halt the redevelopment plan, which they feared would drive monthly rents up by hundreds of dollars and make it too expensive for them to live there.
Midkiff held a four-day hearing in June on a request for a temporary restraining order to stop the redevelopment. At the hearing, Jim Nichols, owner of the development company Dalmark, which took over management of Parade Park Homes in March 2015, argued that the complex needed a dramatic modernization approach.
He suggested new construction would be more financially practical. Dalmark had proposed replacing the complex with 344 units, including 88 single-story villas to appeal to seniors, plus two- and three-bedroom townhomes with some available to low-income families.
But the plaintiffs countered that the co-op board had acted improperly and that the loans to accomplish the redevelopment would dramatically increase their costs. They wanted less expension options to consider.
The judge denied the temporary restraining order, and later ordered that the case be mediated. The mediation occurred on one day in early September.
Lawyers said Tuesday that the mediator, Leland Shurin, did a tremendous job of bringing both sides together and working out a resolution.
Under the agreement, Parade Park Homes will hold a special election Saturday for a new, nine-member board of directors. Only one of the named plaintiffs and one of the current board members will be allowed to run for election. Also, the existing on-site property manager was let go. Dalmark is no longer the management company, replaced on an interim basis by Cohen-Esrey.
It will be up to the new board to consider how to redevelop the property, what development team can best accomplish that task, and how to finance it.
Herb Hardwick, attorney who represented the defendants in the case, said Tuesday that now, “Parade Park Homes has an opportunity to determine how it would like to proceed.”
Attorney James Tippin, representing the plaintiffs, agreed the settlement opens the door to a more positive development future.
“It’s a good outcome for everyone involved, for the property and for the residents,” he said.
Midkiff said that once the board election occurs this weekend, she will be happy to receive a motion early next week to dismiss the lawsuit.