Suit challenges Pan Am move

July 23, 2008
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Pan Am PlazaA local attorney filed a lawsuit today challenging a city maneuver that cleared the way for private redevelopment of Pan Am Plaza. The suit, available here as a PDF, argues that the city's December 2007 move to reduce a restrictive covenant to 10,000 square feet from 88,000 square feet was "illegal and unauthorized" and robbed taxpayers of about $6 million. The city bought the properties known as Square 88 in 1985 and gave them to the Sports Corp. in exchange for a covenant restricting development on the plaza for 30 years. The agreement gave the not-for-profit the option of paying a $3 million fee ($6 million when adjusted for inflation) to opt out after 20 years. But in December, the Metropolitan Development Commission and DMD Director Maury Plambeck agreed to waive the covenant without a fee to help facilitate redevelopment of the crumbling plaza.

The lawsuit says DMD hid the implications of the move and failed to refer the decision to the City-County Council, as required by state law. The suit also claims that the city still hasn't paid off bonds used to pay for the land, opting instead to roll them into bonds used for Circle Centre mall. Attorney Paul K. Ogden is asking for a $6 million judgment to reduce the city's current debt load and additional damages to cover attorneys' fees and expenses. Ogden is the same attorney who sued the Capital Improvement Board over the proceeds of an auction of RCA Dome memorabilia. IBJ first reported on the promised Pan Am lawsuit in a July 12 story.

  • That is the unfortunate thing about the CIB settling that first lawsuit with him. He now feels if he keeps filing these lawsuits they will payoff for him. If he was so worried about taxpayers, he would offer his services pro bono instead of wanting the taxpayer to pay his bills.
  • this snake gives attorneys a bad name
  • If this has no merit, he will not be paid anything. If found justified, they should deduct the expense from the public officials salary that was entrusted to stand up for us.

    Glad someone is standing up for taxpayers.
  • The Sports Corp. is an invaluable asset for Indianapolis. If the lawyer's goals are altruistic then his actions should be guided by the realization that this suit may do more harm for the city than good.
  • This is why no one challenges established dogma, as everyone believes there are nefarious motives. The wink-wink method of robbing taxpayers tolerated by the government needs to stop. And the only thing the city understands is lawsuits. They will change ordinances and procedures in a heartbeat when they are challenged.
  • We all love development here. However this guy is looking after the tax payers of Indianapolis. I have never seen a developer do that. Free Lunch is absolutely correct. People are getting robbed by the government and it is time to stop. If Indianapolis is the great city we think it is, then projects should be built with minimal help.
  • Todd-

    I never claimed that Indianapolis is a great city. Projects need help here. Badly.
  • Not true taxpayer. If they settle to avoid the cost of a lawsuit he will get paid. If he truly wants to do this for the citizens, do it for free. A lot of attorneys take cases pro bono. Why doesn't he.
  • Paul Ogden is all about himself. He always says he's looking out for the citizens but always assures that he gets his fee component included. Too many attorneys looking for creative ways to create lawsuits is a major reason for rising costs and for falling values. Ogen is rising to the head of the class of lawyer greed. WE NEED British law that says if you sue and you lose, you pay. Ogden, put a sock in it.
  • Did anyone catch who the named class representative is...Clark Kahlo. The same guy trying to turn the canal parcel across from the Historical Society into a ridiculous and unnecessary park. Further, cases of this type where the action is based on taxpayer standing are extremely hard to maintain and often get dismissed early on.
  • Clark Kahlo is the archetype of someone with seemingly decent intentions run amok. When you're arguing for green or open spaces, anyone who opposes you is automatically going to look completely insensitive, regardless of how right they are. Why anyone listens to him, though, is completely beyond me. The dude is a lunatic. Recognizing me for the job I hold, he actually stopped me in a cafe one time to try and get me to sign his Save Canal Park nonsense. I politely declined, yet he continued to try and show me all of his crap about Canal Park until the point where I told him off. Ugh, no surprise that this guy is behind this.
  • Don't know the lawyer, but clearly there are some city shrills in on this chat. How dumb to ridcule the guy for asking for a fee - do you do your job for free, knucklehead?

    I've seen many cases of government doing the wink wink nod nod to developers and setting aside old agreements. A private company would not be able to wriggle out of a deal that provided for the $6M payment without the help of the government intervening.

    Kte can make this go easily without any incentives. For God's sake, it's in the ehart of downtown and is right next to a new $1.5B stadium/convention center expansion.

    Why hasn't the Sports Corp disclosed the sale price?
  • My favorite part of the suit document is the very end where the attorneys want money from the fund... The fund for the taxpayers.... yuuuuup!
  • To TinyTim:

    You're criticism of the lawyer asking for money betrays your bias against class action suits or the plantiff's bar. That's fine. But your opinion falls on deaf ears if you don't follow it up with a substantive argument on the merits of the case.
  • Hmmm, Clark Kahlo or Susan Williams... I say we let them settle it in the ring. That should be exciting!!!
  • I have to agree that people whining about Ogden wanting to get paid for his work are pretty hypocritical. If, as the result of this suit the taxpayers get $6 million dollars, I won't begrudge Ogden's law firm getting $300-$600k as a fee. I'm still $5.5 million ahead of where I would be if he never brought suit.
  • Well, as a taxpayer and sports fan, the ISC has brought more money to this community through events then any of the complainers. The Tax Payers have been more then compensated for the potential fine. Also, by freeing up this site it paves the way for more taxes into the coffers as the redevelopment on this site hasn't requested any tax incentives as do other high profile developments downtown.

    Also the fact that a non-profit sold it, means the property can now pay property taxes. So, even more taxes go to the coffers...

    I don't see any negatives to this opportunity. Only positives...
  • Indy guy,

    No shill ( I assume that is what you meant) for the City. If his intentions are truly altruistic and he is looking out for the taxpayer, then offer to take it for free. Many attorneys do that for all sorts of clients. Otherwise he looks like he is just trying to make money off the taxpayers.
  • BTW - I don't approve of the lawsuit. I do approve of the reduced potential for a fine.

    It is unfortunate that an entity like this has fallen on hard times and when given assistance is blasted. The fact that we as a community didn't support the World Basketball games and sent them on a downward sprial of debt, is unfortunate. We should have bailed them out at the time. Not try and assist when they have had to sell off all their assets to pay off the debts.
  • Cory, did we ever find out if the City gained anything, such as an extension of the original 30-year plaza maintenance agreement, in exchange for allowing for a 80+% reduction of the plaza area, eight years early without the required payment?
  • My money's on Susan, SE Guy.
  • I just want to point a few things out. First, to be very honest the plaza had outlived the usefulness that it was originally constructed for. The land is incredibly underutilized. Second, the taxpayers will get payed once this high value land is mostly put back on the tax roles and again itself becomes economically productive. Finally, as for Ogden charging a fee, this is how lawyers get paid. Generally pro bono work is done with the backing of a firm, organization or program that provides compensation. This is how the legal system works.

    Oh, and my money is on Susan too.
  • Dear Indyman:

    No one says you have to think Ogden is being altruistic to support his idea that it's wrong to give the handout at taxpayers' expense. It's enough to say that someone sees something isn't right, and is in a position as an attorney to do something about it, and, yes, earn a handsome sum if he wins. That doesn' t taint his argument in my mind. Now, if you're a shill, you attack the guy saying it's wrong rather than state your case on why it's right to let them out of the deal.

    This site would be developed anyway sooner or later, and the fact that private development will increase the tax base is true whether the ISC gets a sweetheart deal or not.

    Finally, who cares who they picked out of the crowd to be the represetative of the class action. Could have been anyone. Irrelevant.
  • Susan would likely win, but it would be a fight to remember. Why didn't Kahlo and Ogden sue when Simon took half of a well used public space for their HQ?
  • A lot of people are saying Ogden is doing this for the taxpayer. I say he is doing it for himself. Just my humble opinion. Again, he can prove he is not out for taxpayer money, but he won't.

    Ogden did not sue over the Simon for one big reason. No chance he would win. The park was always a temp use until a development deal came along. Same with the so called Lincoln Park. You won't see Ogden sue on it. The problem with people like Kahlo, is now some developers are afraid to put in temp parks because they are afraid he will go after them when they develop them. They are now going with parking lots to bank the lots.
  • Has Kahlo sued someone over a temporary park being developed?

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