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Warners want cut of proposed WVU-Morgantown deal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Four bankrupt developers want a significant cut of an urban renewal deal that West Virginia University is working out with the city of Morgantown and First United Bank and Trust.

The deal, to be considered by the WVU Board of Governors on Friday, calls for the university to acquire 4 acres from the city where brothers Kris, Ben, Monty and Mac Warner proposed but never built The Square at Falling Run.

WVU also would acquire 21 acres with rental properties, three other lots and an unoccupied apartment building in the area from other parties, paying a total $9.7 million.

In exchange, the Warners would drop a long-running harassment lawsuit against the city in U.S. District Court.

But attorney Ed Kohout tells The Dominion Post his clients deserve a "substantial sum" from the deal because they bought the Falling Run land with their own money. He filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city for any correspondence about the proposed deal.

"Without their hard work this project -- which the city and WVU now hope to benefit from -- never would have materialized," Kohout said. "The Warners therefore will vigorously object to any deal which does not include payment to them."

City Manager Terrence Moore declined comment.

WVU spokeswoman Becky Lofstead said the university is dealing with the appropriate parties -- the city, the bank and a federal bankruptcy court trustee who controls the land.

Kohout argues the Warners maintain an equity interest in the property, and as members of the Square at Falling Run LLC, they're entitled to any assets or property the trustee doesn't sell.

The Warners are also principals in McCoy 6 LLC and Augusta Apartments LLC. The Square at Falling Run was supposed to be a mixed-use community featuring an apartment complex called The Augusta and a parking garage. Last year, WVU bought the Augusta property out of bankruptcy for $13.1 million.


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