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Institute hopes to block CityNorth agreement on appeal

November 8, 2014

Developer has incentive deal with Phoenix

The Goldwater Institute thinks it may have a good chance of blocking an incentive agreement between Phoenix and the CityNorth development in the Arizona Court of Appeals.

“A lot of the applicable law was developed in the Court of Appeals,” said Clint Bolick, attorney for the institute.

“Trial judges often are reluctant to strike down laws.”

Bolick was the losing attorney in the trial phase of the case, which challenged the $97.4 million incentive agreement on grounds that it violated several clauses of the state Constitution.

City officials pointed out that such arrangements are specifically authorized, or at least were, before the state Legislature banned the practice in 2007.

Bolick said that although trial court Judge Robert Miles penned a ruling that appeared to turn down each of his arguments, he agreed on at least one key factor: That the plaintiffs who the Goldwater Institute lined up for the lawsuit did in fact have legal standing or the right to participate in the action.

Otherwise, he said, “he gave a number of our claims short shrift,” Bolick said.

Bolick said he hopes for quick action once he files his appeal.

He said the judges should be generally aware of the case. In addition, he said, financial decisions hinge on their decision, making a quick judgment more likely.

CityNorth’s developers already have delayed Phase 2 of the project, citing in part the uncertainty created by the lawsuit.

Phase 1, a several-blocks-long street of shops and restaurants, is scheduled to open on time this fall.

Phoenix Deputy City Manager David Krietor said the city was “100 percent confident” that the agreement followed the law.

“It did not leave much room for dispute,” he said.

Lisa Hauser, attorney for CityNorth, said the Goldwater Institute wants a ruling that will change the Arizona Constitution but “this does not appear to be the right way to do it.”



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