Restraining Order Foils Superior's Renovation Plans

Superior Financial Corp. of Little Rock's plan to redevelop its branch on Grant Street in Little Rock's Heights neighborhood into a drive-through office was temporarily put on hold when Pulaski Heights Real Estate Co. filed a temporary restraining order in Pulaski County Chancery Court.

PHREC's tenants in the Heights Shopping Center had a prescriptive right to use Superior's land to access dumpsters, according to the motion filed by Geoffrey B. Treece, an attorney with Quattlebaum Grooms Tull & Barrow of Little Rock.

Superior proposed a five-lane facility to Little Rock's Board of Adjustments March 23 meeting, but the board split 2-2 and told the parties to come back with a compromise plan on April 30.

But, Treece's filing said, Superior didn't return phone calls. The bank withdrew its variance request and on April 24 obtained a building permit for a four-lane drive through.

Superior CEO C. Stanley Bailey denied Treece's allegation that Superior dodged contact, and Lance R. Miller of Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard PLLC of Little Rock disagreed with the characterization in PHREC's filing, saying Superior met with PHREC, returned phone calls and tried to work things out.

"When...the Board of Adjustments tied on a decision, we shrunk the plan and moved forward because the four-lane plan met the city's set-back requirement," Bailey said. "Treece's take on it is not true."

This Land Is My Land

Treece received an April 25 letter from Donald H. Henry of the Mitchell firm saying Superior was permanently restricting access over its property beginning April 27. A copy of the letter was sent to Bailey.

"Frankly, I am shocked by the bank's deceit in this matter," Treece said in an April 26 reply. Treece said a bank representative, Charles Peden, told PHREC that Superior intended to discuss the issues in good faith and that Peden had many ideas as to how the issues might be resolved.

"However, I can see now that we were intentionally misled by the bank concerning its intentions to discuss an amicable resolution."

Jimmy Patton Construction Co. removed the pavement on one part of the lot May 1 and blocked access to the rear loading docks. PHREC filed for injunctive relief the next day. On May 4 Chancery Judge Ellen B. Brantley granted a temporary restraining order, which was dissolved May 7 when PHREC agreed to submit a proposal for use of the rear loading docks.

"We've countered back and forth, but it is not resolved," Superior CFO Rick Gardner said. "It's out of court right now, but that doesn't mean it won't go back. In the meantime, construction is continuing and will be completed by July 1."

The general contractor is James Cone Construction Co. of Little Rock.