Alliance Corp. and Kentucky Mirror and Plate Glass Co., Plant No. 2 Inc. were the most recent defendants to file answers to a lawsuit filed by Warren County government and the Warren County Economic Development Authority.
The lawsuit, which lead to some strong words from Mills Family Realty in its response, asks for the court to declare invalid mechanic’s liens filed on the commercial wrap of the parking garage in Block 6 of the Tax Increment Financing district for unpaid construction bills on the wrap. Alliance and Kentucky Mirror want to be paid.
Just how some language came to be inserted in an agreement for the development of Hitcents Park Plaza that allowed for bonds to be used for operating costs of restaurants has been questioned in legal filings. Mills Family Realty said the language was inserted before a final draft of the agreement was given to them in August 2012 by former Mariah’s restaurant owner Rick Kelley. Clinton and Chris Mills said it was Kelley and others who approached them about developing the wrap space.
“Mr. Kelley did not represent either MFR or the Mills and his email did not indicate who was responsible for the revision,” the MFR group stated in regard to the changes.
Kelley said in an email Friday that the same bond counsel the city had used in previous bond issues was the author of bond documents and that the county’s financial adviser reviewed documents.
He said in the email that the city attorney made no changes to eligible uses for bond funds when he wrote an amendment to the operating agreement in May 2013.
“The truth is that no one found the language troublesome,” Kelley said in the email.
Kelley also said in the email that he initially approached the Mills brothers regarding Hitcents leasing space in the wrap.
He said they proposed ownership of their space and ultimately requested to own the building. Kelley said once construction started, the Millses were in charge of all decisions.
“It’s inconceivable for the Mills to suggest they were coerced into this project,” he said in the email.
Hitcents Park Plaza has had financial problems for months. Liens were filed on the property for money allegedly owed to construction contractors beginning in late February. Prior to that all five restaurants in the wrap had closed – three in 2014 and two this year.
The answers from Alliance and Kentucky Mirror and Plate Glass, both filed Thursday, state that liens on the wrap property were filed properly and ask for payment they say they are owed for work on the commercial wrap.
The response from Alliance states that it is owed $1,880,046.57 for labor and materials. It asks for “an order directing the County, Authority, City of Bowling Green or any other public entity to make payment to Alliance of any amounts in their possession and due and owing, or otherwise held for the benefit of, or owned by, (Mills Family Realty) ... .”
Kentucky Mirror and Plate Glass states it is owed $166,735.13 for labor and services for the project.
It also asks for “an order directing Warren County and the Authority to make payment to Kentucky Mirror of all amounts due to Kentucky Mirror, which are due from Warren County, the Authority, the city of Bowling Green, or any other public entity owing funds to Mills for the Project, consistent with the priority of Kentucky Mirror’s lien ... .”
The lawsuit claimed that Mills Family Realty misused $3.9 million in bond funds issued for the commercial wrap. It claims Mills Family Realty used that money “on restaurant equipment, consultants and operations on its own behalf or on behalf of a related corporation MR Group Inc.”
Mills Family Realty says it was permitted to use funds for restaurant operating expenses.