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Jonesboro Convention Center Developer Ordered to Pay Attorneys’ FeesLock Icon

2 min read

There’s more bad news for the owner of the defunct Jonesboro Hyatt Place Hotel & Convention Center.

You might have seen that last month the owner of the proposed convention center project, Northern Arkansas Hotel & Convention Center LLC, was hit with a $1.1 million judgment, owed to contractors who worked on the project. Charles Keller Sr. of Effingham, Illinois, a developer of the project who personally guaranteed the payments, also is responsible for the judgment.

But did you know that Craighead County Circuit Judge John Fogleman recently ordered Keller and the convention center to pay $70,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs to lawyers Tony L. Wilcox and Chris A. Averitt, both of Jonesboro? The lawyers represented the general contractor, Construction Network Inc. of Jonesboro.

Fogleman also awarded $14,000 in attorney’s fees and costs to David Grace of North Little Rock, who represented KEG Construction LLC of Paragould. Junius Bracy Cross Jr. of Little Rock, the attorney who represented Naylor Concrete & Steel Erectors Inc. of Mount Vernon (Faulkner County), will also receive a judgment for $14,000 for attorney’s fees and costs.

CNI will be allowed to keep $240,962 of the $1.1 million judgment. CNI will then distribute $383,172 to Naylor and $428,568 to KEG.

The construction companies first sued the convention center in early 2017 to collect money owed for work on the project, which began in late 2016. The project was one of two convention centers being built in the city of about 70,000.

Contractors also placed liens on the estimated $30 million project, envisioned as a 165-room Hyatt Place and 37,000-SF convention center. The lawsuits brought construction on that project to a halt.

In a deposition taken in December, Keller said he didn’t have the money to pay the debts, but he didn’t deny that he owed it to the contractors.

“Our company, we owe the money, yes,” Keller said.

Meanwhile, the other convention center project, the Red Wolf Convention Center at Arkansas State University, is expected to open next summer.

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