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Strip mall owner sues city, claims fence blocks access

Lawsuit alleges business wasn’t compensated for property rights

Updated Tuesday, July 7, 2009 | 8:23 p.m.

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Former Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald stands in July 2007 near the site of a proposed retail and senior housing project to be developed by his company.

Strip mall location

Actions by the city of Las Vegas and former City Councilman Michael McDonald have harmed the fortunes of an old strip mall on Decatur Boulevard, the shopping center owner claims in a lawsuit filed against the city.

Decatur Shopping Center Associates sued the city July 1 in Clark County District Court.

The company has a strip mall at 1401 N. Decatur Blvd., on the west side of Decatur between Washington Avenue and Vegas Drive. Its tenants include small businesses, a bar/nightclub and larger stores such as a beauty supply warehouse and a Family Dollar.

The center is complaining the city recently erected a fence blocking access to its property, violating an easement agreement dating to 1963 that allowed traffic to enter and leave the center by traveling through a vacant city lot.

Vehicles can still access the center off of Decatur.

But the fence amounts to a taking without compensation of the center's property rights, the center charges in the suit.

The suit also says McDonald, while a councilman, informed the center's owners prior to 2003 that the city would be taking their property for a redevelopment project. That never happened, but the shopping center claims it's been in limbo for years because of McDonald's comments.

McDonald's company, Alpha Omega Strategies Inc., received approval and financial assistance from the City Council last year for a plan to develop senior housing and a retail center on Decatur Boulevard at Vegas Drive, adjacent to and just north of the shopping center.

It appears the fence was put up to accommodate construction for that project, called The Residences at Village Square.

McDonald left the City Council in 2003. He couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday, and a city spokeswoman said the city would have no comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Daniel Foley, says McDonald told the center's owners of a plan by the city to acquire the shopping center and combine it with the city land for a redevelopment project.

While the city didn't buy the shopping center land, the lawsuit indicates there were on-and-off negotiations over the years for the city to buy the shopping center's interest in the easement permitting vehicles to travel in and out of the center by using city property.

A deal was reached with city staff for the city to buy the easement rights for $435,000 in 2004, but it was not presented to the City Council because the city hadn't completed negotiations for development of the city property, the lawsuit said.

Years later, with no communication between the city and the shopping center, the fence went up during the past few months, the lawsuit charges.

"The fence ... is in violation of the specific terms of the parking easement, it prevents Decatur Center, its tenants and their customers from in any way utilizing their rights under the parking easement to park or have access through or across the city property," the suit charges.

Since McDonald told the shopping center its land would be taken by the city, "Decatur Center has been unable to, and/or impaired in its efforts to sell, market, improve, develop, redevelop or make any plans related to the center," the suit charged.

The shopping center's owners, listed in records as Burt Blum and Joan Blum of Encino, Calif., claim all of this amounts to a trespass and a taking of their property rights without compensation.

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