Verano, VTLM dispute settled through mediation
By Jason B. Hogan
A bankruptcy judge organized a deal between Verano Land Group and VTLM Texas LP Feb. 24, settling a dispute over ownership of the 1,825-acre property around Texas A&M-San Antonio’s Main Campus.
Multiple university officials said they do not know how the settlement will affect university growth and development. The university’s masterplan, now under revision, hinged on a private-public relationship between Verano and the university.
Kenneth Mitts, vice president for finance and administration, said he knows only the information published in a Feb. 24 San Antonio Express-News article describing the agreement.
He said he knows Verano wants to sell the land, which surrounds A&M-San Antonio’s Main Campus off Interstate 410 and Zarzamora Street, but does not know when that will take place.
Mitts said Verano’s idea is to sell the land as a whole, but he can not imagine they would oppose selling the land to multiple partners.
Mediation between Verano Land Group and VTLM, a group who held former ties with Verano’s ownership group, began Sept. 16.
Former City Attorney Michael Bernard and two former judges Michael P. Pedan and Victor H. Negón led efforts to settle a contract dispute between the two groups.
Both parties attempted to forego possible litigation matters and keep the ball rolling on Southside development at A&M-San Antonio.
Verano planned to build student housing units, a 75,000 square foot building and potentially 100 townhomes surrounding the campus’ 2,500-acres.
Soon after mediation began, Verano ownership announced its intention to sell the property in November, supposedly, after continued stagnation with the project. Plans for future deals or development on Verano’s part have remained idle since.
The mediation outcome primarily centered on ownership of a TIRZ agreement, or tax investment reimbursement zoning rights, with the city of San Antonio. The agreement offers up to a $250 million reimbursement to the land developer for project completion.
Verano initially filed a lawsuit against VTLM in the state of Nevada, home to Verano Land Group. But, in February, a case opened in Bexar County which also named VTLM in the suit, Matthew Wymer, VTLM attorney, said.
Actual mediation ended some time ago, Wymer said. But the court formally approved the settlement agreement between Verano and VTLM Feb. 24.
VTLM has agreed to transfer its ownership of the TIRZ to the project developer.
But, as of yet, Verano has not found a developer to sell the land to.
Once Verano finds a suitor to purchase the land area, VTLM can transfer ownership of the TIRZ agreement to the new developer, instead of the TIRZ changing hands more than once.
So, now that the bankruptcy court has approved the settlement, Verano and VTLM can move on to the next stage.
Next, the City Council must approve the TIRZ transference, deputy city attorney Veronica Zertuche said.
Zertuche said Verano hired a real estate broker that will shop the property around.
Verano CEO Tim Bartlett was not available prior to publication to confirm his group’s plans for land sale through Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate brokerage firm, who handles Verano’ assets, as stated in the Express-News article.
But, once that sale does takes place, Zertuche said “we will see action by the city council to transfer it to the new group.”
She estimates two months before the TIRZ transfer will go before City Council.