Rose Law Group land use litigator Olen Lenets talks to New Times about Goldwater’s GPLET suit against Phoenix

An emergent lawsuit could hinder Hubbard Street Group’s plans to finish building this mixed-use tower near Roosevelt Row, which is already about halfway constructed. (Photo by Elias Weiss)

By Elias Weiss | Phoenix New Times

The Goldwater Institute, a libertarian public policy think tank based in Phoenix, sued the city of Phoenix last week on behalf of two Arizona taxpayers for the second time in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Plaintiffs think the city is playing favorites, and they’re not happy about it. Especially because they went through the same ordeal just two years ago.

Goldwater Institute attorneys allege the city sidestepped state law when it got in bed with the Chicago-based Hubbard Street Group, a real estate developer, gifting it a hefty handout of taxpayer dollars in the form of a $7.9 million tax break to spur local development.

“I am baffled by this,” Jon Riches, Goldwater Institute’s director of national litigation, told Phoenix New Times on Monday. “This is an extraordinary demonstration of hubris and lawlessness.”

A Deluxe Apartment in the Sky

The Chicago developer is eyeing its Phoenix debut with Skye on 6th, a 26-story high-rise at Sixth and Garfield streets downtown. It’s an $87 million project that is expected to feature more than 300 apartment units and 7,000 square feet of commercial space.

Skye on 6th is Hubbard Street Group’s second Arizona project. The firm developed the Sunscape Villas in Scottsdale in 2010.

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Because the 2020 lawsuit challenged the specific GPLET to Amstar and not the constitutionality of GPLETs generally, there is nothing stopping the same plaintiffs from challenging a different GPLET for Hubbard Street Group, said Olen Lenets, a land use litigator with Rose Law Group in Scottsdale.

He’s sure the city of Phoenix has every reason to believe it can be successful in defending against the claims brought against it.

The two cases are not as identical as they appear, he asserted.

“While the parties in the 2020 and 2022 lawsuits may be the same, the underlying facts appear to be different,” Lenets told New Times. “If I successfully sue you for negligence because you hit me with your car in 2020, and make the same allegation in 2022 based on a new, separate instance of alleged negligence, you have every right and opportunity to defend against my new negligence claim.”

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