City, Owners of 508 Park Ave. Hoping for Settlement Before Trial Set for June

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It's been a few months since last we discussed the fate of 508 Park Avenue. So, then, an update -- offered, really, because earlier today I noticed that on April 20, Todd Rundgren's playing Trees. And it's more than just another best-of-and-rest-of tour: Runt will be performing "his interpretations of 12 songs originally written and recorded by Delta blues guitar legend Robert Johnson" -- many of which, Rundgren reminds, "were recorded in a studio at 508 Park Avenue."

And so, memory appropriately jogged, we return to the Dallas County Courthouse, where there's an ongoing legal battle over the downtown property, which the owners, Colby Properties, would like to sell or tear down or whatever it takes to get the city to stop citing it for code violations.

No doubt you recall: In June the city filed a complaint telling Colby to clean up or pay up. Which led to Colby trying to find some city entity -- the Landmark Commission's Central Business District Task Force, the Landmark Commission itself, the City Plan Commission, whoever -- that would allow it to raze the structure; no such luck. Colby's attorney, Robert Miller, filed what's called an affirmative defense on December 21. In the docs, Colby claims the city is "requiring the expenditure of private funds for a public use with no benefit to the defendants" and says the code clampdown constitutes "an unconstitutional taking of the property."

I asked First Assistant Chris Bowers today how the suit's progressing. He says a trial date has been set for June, but that there have been some settlement discussions in recent weeks. "But," says Bowers, "we're not in a position to know at this point if anything will come of it." Miller, who says Colby really doesn't want to tear down the building if it can be avoided, agrees, but says this and only this: "We would like to get it resolved." Maybe Todd Rundgren can buy the place.

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