Development

Sprint HQ land sale lands in court. Buyer asks judge to stop Saturday deal deadline

Timeline: Sprint’s merger with T-Mobile

Here's a timeline outlining Sprint's on-again, off-again merger talks since 2014. On April 29, 2018 Sprint and T-Mobile announced the two were merging.
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Here's a timeline outlining Sprint's on-again, off-again merger talks since 2014. On April 29, 2018 Sprint and T-Mobile announced the two were merging.

First, T-Mobile agreed to buy Sprint. Then, Sprint told employees it’s thinking about selling its headquarters campus.

Now, a Johnson County judge is being asked to weigh in on a $20 million deal for some undeveloped land Sprint owns near its headquarters.

Developer Kenneth G. Block leads a business that already has bought part of a 37-acre tract north of 115th Street at Nall Avenue. He is planning retail spaces for the spot that is kitty-corner from the Park Place shopping center.

Block, through BMG 115 Investors LLC, faces a Saturday deadline to complete the purchase of the remaining land. Missing that deadline would cost him $125,000 in earnest money, according to a lawsuit filed against Sprint in Johnson County District Court.

But Block doesn’t want to close on the deal just yet. According to the lawsuit, Sprint is trying to dictate what sorts of businesses Block can lease or sell his future retail space to.

No AT&T stores, or Verizon or T-Mobile stores, the suit said, and Block’s fine with that.

The suit said the land sale deal allows other potential retail uses, including Best Buy, even though consumers buy cell phones on all four major wireless company’s networks there.

Still others would be allowed, the lawsuit said quoting the agreement, “including (without limitation) urgent care, freestanding emergency rooms, real estate brokerage offices, and mortgage and securities offices.”

But here’s the rub: that short list is all Sprint would allow, according to the lawsuit.

Sprint “takes a position contrary to the plain language of the agreement” by saying the buyer is restricted to selling or leasing space only to “urgent care, freestanding emergency rooms, real estate brokerage offices, and mortgage and securities offices,” the suit says.

Block declined to talk about the lawsuit or his development plans.

Sprint spokeswoman Lisa Belot said Sprint’s position is that “the terms of the agreement in place are crystal clear and not subject to renegotiation at this stage.” Belot said there was a hearing scheduled Friday in the case.

Sprint’s plans regarding the sale of its headquarters have not changed since its August announcement to employees, Belot said. She added that those plans include developed and undeveloped land.

Federal regulators are reviewing the proposal to merge Sprint into T-Mobile.

Block’s lawsuit makes clear that he considers Sprint has put him in a spot.

If he doesn’t close the deal by the deadline, he loses the $125,000 earnest money. If he goes ahead and completes the deal, the dispute over the potential use of the spaces he wants to build could make it difficult to find lenders willing to finance construction and limit Block’s potential benefits if he can get the development completed.

Block’s lawsuit asks the judge to stop Sprint from enforcing the Saturday deadline and preserve his $125,000 in earnest money while the court sorts out the dispute about potential uses of the buildings Block wants to build.

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