A vote to amend the lease agreement for the Irving Music Factory between the City of Irving and the ARK Group of Irving went forward and then backward during the Jan. 12 Irving council meeting. The back-and-forth of the vote stuck some observers as unorthodox.
ARK approached the council to allow an increase in square footage for flex space or office space in what is currently expected to be retail, in order to provide a place for a radio of TV station at the development in addition to administrative offices.
Irving City Manager Chris Hillman pointed out that this issue had been a discussion item the month prior and had been postponed in order to give time for city staff and ARK to clarify the details of the proposed changes. Hillman added that the adjustments had continued up to the morning of the meeting.
According to staff recommendations, which encouraged the council to deny the request, the original lease agreement called for up to 100,000 square feet of office space, which ARK had since agreed to lease to one client.
Rick Lazes, representing ARK, informed the council the developer was rescinding the request for additional office space, but wanted the council to approve space for the proposed Radio or TV studio as well as reducing the space for a fitness center from 30,000 square feet down to 15,000. Another 2,400 square feet would be set aside as non-rental office space for facility administration, maintenance and security applications.
A motion was made by Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Allan E. Meagher to approve the revised request from ARK. A vote was taken and the measure passed by a vote of 5-4. However, after consideration of two more agenda items, Councilmember Kyle Taylor asked the council to reconsider the motion. This time Taylor voted against the request, and with another council member abstaining, the motion failed.
“That is totally unprecedented,” said Irving activist Anthony Bond, who has been attending Irving council meetings for years. “I asked him initially why he changed his vote. Was he bullied by the mayor or anyone else to do it? He said, ‘no.’ He just hit the button wrong.”
Bond also asked for an explanation of the “no” vote but has not heard back. He is expecting one of the council members who voted against the request to bring it back up again, with perhaps slightly amended details. Neither the council member mentioned nor Taylor could be reached by press time.
Irving Councilmember Dennis Webb said the change of vote was unusual, but not out of line procedurally.
“He’s a new council member,” Webb said. “This is his first year, and he really didn’t know what to do (when he realized his vote had been recorded wrong). He finally figured it out, or asked some questions and asked to reconsider the vote … it was just off that it took so long.”
Webb said that he believes the city staff and developer are still looking for ways to bring forward an option whereby space for the offices, media outlet and fitness center could still be brought forward at a future council meeting.