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Commission approves GM plant purchase, lawsuit could slow transaction

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The $7.5 million for the GM plant purchase from RACER Trust was approved for spending by the Caddo Commission Thursday. It seems the parish's Industrial Development Board may be able to freely enter a lease with developer Industrial Realty Group, who'll then sublease space to Elio Motors. A lawsuit filed by one worried commissioner could slow things up. She's pressing forward even if her allies in the purchase debate now feel confident in the sale.

"It turned out as I had expected, which is why I filed the suit this morning," Commissioner Stephanie Lynch said.

Lynch casted the only vote against Ordinance 5330. She filed a lawsuit against the Caddo Commission and the IDB in hopes of stopping the transaction before final closing in September.

"I'm asking for injunction relief, that the deal not be consummated until we have a hearing on the constitutionality and legality of this transaction," Lynch said.

Lynch doesn't believe Elio Motors will be a success and hopes her actions puts pressure on RACER to find a better occupant for the GM building.

"Absolutely. They've entered into a deal with a company that did not have the financial backing that it needed to produce those 1,500 jobs that were promised to us," Lynch said.

Commissioner Matthew Linn once had similar views as Lynch. However, he voted yes, claiming closed door negotiations about the purchase deal reached a point that favored the parish.

"That tipping point to where the gain now outweighs the risk," Linn said.

He believes having Stewart Lichter and IRG in charge of developing the plant will only benefit the parish.

"A nationally proven developer that has gone into many other General Motors facilities and completely renovate them, divided them up and put in a workforce to provide jobs for their community," Linn said.

Linn says his confidence in the deal is also strengthened by outside business opinions.

"I've met with some of the largest commercial brokers in Northwest Louisiana and they have given their blessing on this," Linn said.

A court date hasn't been decided in Lynch's lawsuit. RACER Trust officials have rebuffed their confidence that Elio Motors will be a success, stating that they're in constant communication about its progress.

 

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