The Surprise City Council unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday night to the city's compromise settlement agreement with Surprise Center Development Company LLC.
In the original agreement specified that by Sept. 30 both parties would work together on a drainage study as well as several economic incentives. Under the amendment, the economic development package is now due Nov. 15 while the drainage plan deadline extended to Dec. 6.
"Staff, as well as our business partner, has been working hard to complete those items. However, we still have some work to do," City Manager Bob Wingenroth said during Tuesday's City Council meeting.
The city and the development company, operated by Phoenix-based Carefree Partners Investments, L.L.C, agreed to an 11-point settlement on May 5. The parties negotiated a truce and agreed to the basic framework in February following 19 months in the courts.
The settlement was finalized and the lawsuit dismissed with prejudice.
"The parties simply needed additional time to complete those two agreed upon tasks, therefore the parties agreed to extend the deadline. It’s pretty standard," stated Surprise Communications and Marketing Director Diane Arthur in an email.
In July 2014 Surprise sent the development group a notice of default, arguing the downtown block remained mostly undeveloped. SCDC countered with a $101 million notice of claim.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge denied the city's notice of default. Surprise filed a claim seeking an unspecified amount of damages and the corporation returned fire.
SCDC acquired the parcel - bounded by Bell, Greenway and Litchfield roads and Bullard Avenue - in 1997 and owns most of it. Nearly all of the city-owned downtown land is covered with civic buildings, including Surprise Civic Center, Surprise Municipal Court, Surprise Town Lake and the Surprise Tennis Center.
Three items with the most potential impact deal directly with land use. They are:
• The city would at least pave a strip of Civic Center Drive North from Elm Street to Paradise Lane by Dec. 15, 2017 and connect it to the existing pavement. This would cost about $300,000 and Surprise would maintain Civic Center North from Bell Road to Paradise Lane.
• SCDC would reserve 20 acres at the northwest corner of Greenway Road and Civic Center Drive South for Surprise to acquire at no cost at any time in the next 10 years.
The caveat? Surprise can only do so if the land is used for educational or governmental purposes.
• In order to have any type of property with an overnight stay on this parcel — think hotels and dorms — a property owner must provide an "avigation easement" and sign a release that allows jets to fly over the land.