A settlement is in the works to resolve a lawsuit over the potential redevelopment of Parade Park Homes, one of the nation’s oldest African-American cooperatives.
The settlement may end a contentious argument among residents over a proposed $76 million redevelopment plan for the complex, located just east of the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District. Although many of the residents liked the 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 in limbo.
Lawyers for both sides filed a joint motion to approve the settlement last week. Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff will consider it at a hearing Sept. 27.
The lawsuit was filed in April by four longtime residents of Parade Park Homes, a 510-unit affordable housing cooperative that dates to 1963. The plaintiffs 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 had significant, costly deferred maintenance problems.
He suggested new construction would be the preferred and more financially practical approach. Dalmark had proposed replacing the complex with 344 units, including 88 single-story villas to appeal to seniors, plus two- and three-bedroom townhomes charging a mix of affordable and market rates.
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 be given fair consideration.
The judge denied the temporary restraining order, and later ordered that the case should be mediated. The mediation occurred in early September, leading to the proposed settlement.
Under the proposed agreement, Parade Park Homes will hold a special election Oct. 8 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. Attorneys for both sides said Dalmark is no longer the property manager, replaced on an interim basis by Cohen-Esrey.
Herb Hardwick, attorney for Parade Park Homes who represented the defendants in the case, said Monday that it will be up to the new board and co-op membership to decide how to proceed with any redevelopment or modernization of the complex.
Attorney Dana Cutler, who represented the plaintiffs, said the settlement creates an opportunity to rethink the cooperative’s future.
“My clients are really looking forward to the next positive chapter at Parade Park Homes, and they believe this is the start of that,” Cutler said.