By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
In Fort Worth, officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development say they are monitoring the situation, but thus far have no major cause for concern.
In the summer of 1999, HUD agreed to insure a $22 million loan Natale received from private lenders to pay for the redevelopment. Although no tax dollars have been spent on the project, they could be if the project fails and HUD is forced to foreclose, says HUD spokesman Scott Hudman.
"If, for whatever reason, the deal goes south during construction, the federal government would end up owning [the buildings] and paying for them," Hudman says.
For now, Hudman says the agency's best option is to work with Natale and hope the construction problems that have delayed the project are over.
"In terms of the deal, it's in everybody's best interest to be as flexible as the law allows," Hudman says. "It's in nobody's best interest to let this thing go south."
Like Hudman, Doggett says it is also in the city's best interest to give Natale more time to follow through on his promises. Natale swears the city has nothing to worry about.
"I feel very positive about the rebirth of our project. This is a very important project to us. We've sunk four years of our lives into it," says Natale. "We're a developer who cares."