Presented by The Dallas Morning News

Irving’s long-fought plans to build a concert hall and cluster of restaurants amid the office towers and dense residential complexes of Las Colinas was approved.

The City Council voted unanimously late Thursday to renegotiate its contract with Music Factory developer Ark Group, whose executives indicated they would be amenable to the city’s proposed changes.

The vote came just weeks after the $170 million project appeared all but dead after a surprise split council vote shot down the development company’s requested changes to its contract with the city.

Terms that council members want put into a new contract that Ark officials say they will accept include:

The company must secure its share of financing four months after the new agreement is executed.

Ark must spend $4 million on construction before more public money is spent on the complex.

The city has to rebate to the developer only 75 percent of the sales tax generated from the site, instead of 100 percent.

A third party will verify for the city that Ark’s agreements with its tenants don’t violate the company’s lease with the city.

Ark president Noah Lazes said he was relieved a compromise had been reached.

He said that it will take about 60 days for the contracts to be written and executed and that he expects construction for the 18-acre concert hall, theater and dining complex to resume soon after that.

“We hope, most importantly, it sets a positive tone for the future because we’re partners for the next 99 years,” he said.

Mayor Beth Van Duyne, a longtime critic of the terms of the partnership, supported the deal even though she didn’t think it was ideal.

She noted that the developer would be required to hold graduation ceremonies for all public Irving high schools and was forgoing millions of dollars in tax rebates it had been granted.

“It has been a very long road,” Van Duyne said.

Contract snags halted construction on the project earlier this year just as the first walls were set to rise on what has long been vacant land in Las Colinas.

The company asked for changes to the deal this spring after investors, who are fronting two-thirds of $170 million in construction costs, wanted more protection against earthquakes and worst-case financial scenarios because the city and not the developer or its backers will own the complex.

City staff members and Ark officials spent months working out a deal before City Manager Chris Hillman finally recommended tweaks that would give investors a spot in line for insurance payouts and the developer more leniency if the concert hall has a few consecutive slow months.

But the council rejected those terms in a 5-4 vote and sought better terms for the city.

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