A state agency claims in a lawsuit it filed against Pointe Vista Development LLC that the developer “completely failed” in its efforts to build a four-star hotel on Lake Texoma and should be forced to move ahead with the project or sell the former state park land back to Oklahoma.
In a statement, Gov. Mary Fallin's spokesman said that she and the other members of The Commissioners of the Land Office felt that taking legal action was the only option they had left.
“The legal action they took will move the Pointe Vista issue off high-center and closer to a solution that leads to economic development and allows the state and local residents to fully utilize the area's natural resources and beauty,” Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Fallin said. “The governor still believes the Lake Texoma property has great potential for tourism and job creation for southern Oklahoma.”
The lawsuit was filed late Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court after The Commissioners of the Land Office voted unanimously to sue Pointe Vista in advance of a May 2014 deadline for the developer to have work substantially completed on the hotel.
“Even though the stated deadline for completion of the hotel and convention center has not yet passed, Pointe Vista's statements, actions and inaction amount to a repudiation of Pointe Vista's promise to substantially complete construction of the hotel and convention center by May 28, 2014,” The Commissioners of the Land Office said in its lawsuit. “Among other things, Pointe Vista has failed to obtain financing for the project, necessary utility plans or construction plans for the resort.”
If the court finds that The Commissioners of the Land Office is not entitled to force Pointe Vista to build the hotel, the agency should be allowed to buy back the former Lake Texoma State Park land from Pointe Vista, according to the court filing.
The Commissioners of the Land Office “is prepared to restore the purchase price or so much thereof as Pointe Vista may be entitled ...” the agency said in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also claims that Pointe Vista should be forced to pay the agency damages for failing to start work on the development as well as pay for any legal fees and other costs in connection with the litigation.
Kingston resident Lisa D. Davis, an organizer for the group Restore Lake Texoma State Park, said that while she was pleased the lawsuit had been filed, the local economy on Lake Texoma is still hurting from dwindling tourism to the area since Pointe Vista purchased the parkland near Kingston and closed the state lodge and cabins there several years ago.
Davis and other members of the group want Oklahoma to take back the land it sold to Pointe Vista and have it restored as state parkland.
“The lawsuit is a first step, but a first step only,” Davis said. “We have to see how we can make it through the court and whether or not Pointe Vista Development will see that it is in the best interest of their company and the citizens to bow out gracefully.”
In a statement, Pointe Vista said that it had been expecting The Commissioners of the Land Office to file the lawsuit since the body authorized its attorneys to move ahead with litigation in December.
“We will review the lawsuit,” Pointe Vista said in the statement. “Since this is now a legal matter, it is inappropriate for us to comment on specifics of the suit.”
Pointe Vista was selected by the state in 2006 to develop part of Lake Texoma State Park, including the site of a now-demolished state lodge.
The group is led by Chaparral Energy CEO Mark Fischer, his son Scott Fischer and Aubrey McClendon, founder of American Energy Partners LP.
The developer signed a deal with The Commissioners of the Land Office in 2006 to purchase 758 acres of park land at Lake Texoma for $14.6 million.
The sale of an additional 1,022 acres of land to Pointe Vista, negotiated with the state Tourism Department in 2008, has yet to be finalized because Pointe Vista has not completed an environmental impact study required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to transfer some of the land that is held by the federal government.