GREC Drops $50 Million Arbitration Counterclaim After City Rejects Settlement
Published August 24th, 2013
GAINESVILLE - Just days after city commissioners rejected a proposed settlement agreement from the owners of Gainesville's new biomass plant, GREC officials announced on Friday they are now dropping their counterclaim against the city.
The move not only means an end to the nearly eight-month-long arbitration process, but also takes the city off the hook from potentially having to pay millions of dollars in damages.
In a letter sent to commissioners, GREC President Jim Gordon wrote that his company has decided to voluntarily withdraw its counterclaim.
Gordon says GREC has been actively looking to sell the facility to a buyer interested in collecting the plant's lucrative tax benefits. But to do that, any potential deal must be finalized before the biomass plant is "substantially completed," a milestone that is fast approaching.
In an effort to speed up their search for a buyer, Gordon says his team decided to drop the counterclaim -- and the $50 million they sought in damages -- a move most commissioners see as a step forward.
However, GREC is still asking the city to give up its contractual right of first offer for four months as they pursue a new buyer. In return, GREC would agree to pay the city's attorney's fees, which total more than $1 million.
Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy says he has no plans to call a special meeting to consider GREC's request. As a result, the issue is likely to surface at the City Commission's next official meeting on Sept. 5.
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