The testy landlord-tenant relationship in downtown Little Rock ended last week when the owner of the 24-story Bank of America Plaza reached a settlement with the Wright Lindsey & Jennings law firm.
If you recall, the owner, 200 West Capitol LLC, a California investor group, sued the law firm in August to collect more than $3.3 million that represented delinquent rent, late fees and the full payout on the law firm’s lease set to expire July 31, 2025.
The firm denied the allegations and filed a counterclaim. That dispute was tied to the landlord not completing negotiated repairs and maintenance on the building, which caused the largest tenant in the building to enact a rent abatement clause in the lease agreement.
Steve Lancaster, managing partner of WLJ, told Whispers last week that the rent abatement will continue until the improvements are made.
“We don’t know when or who will be doing that,” he said. “I’m doubtful that it will be 200 West Capitol, but more likely a new owner when that happens.”
Lancaster said he didn’t have any information on the status of the building’s sale. “We’ve indicated that we’re happy to work with a new owner to try and improve the building,” he said.
The firm, which leases the top five floors and the 18th floor totaling 52,255 SF, has been in the building since it opened in 1969. And it wants to stay. “This is our home,” Lancaster said.
He said the firm has recently added attorneys and merged with Dover Dixon Horne PLLC, making it the second-largest law firm in the state.
“We’re looking for additional space, which I know is available in the building,” Lancaster said. “That exhibits our dedication to the space and continuing to grow the lease for whoever owns the building.”
WLJ’s counterclaim was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled.
But 200 West Capitol’s lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can’t be refiled.
“The building owner’s claim that WLJ had breached the lease agreement by failing to pay rent had no basis in fact or law, and the resolution of this suit is a clear indication of that,” Lancaster said in a statement.
What did 200 West Capitol’s attorney, John Buzbee of Nixon Light & Buzbee of Little Rock have to say?
He declined comment.