Hawthorne, a Commercial Disaster

The Hawthorne development north of Wal-Mart was supposed to be the next big thing for Warrensburg.

The Hawthorne's family entertainment center.

Although an agreement with Wal-Mart negated the possibility for a competing big-box store, the Hawthorne was ripe with opportunity.

Unfortunately, it’s a commercial disaster. The neighborhoods there are nice and the movie theater is decent. But the shopping center is vacant except for a nail salon.

The concrete slab next to the strip center was to be a “family entertainment center,” – a euphemism for “bowling alley.” Hey, a bowling alley would be fine, especially one that had a bar, an arcade…maybe a bouncy house. Just about anything new and interesting would be welcomed.

But that concrete slab will remain a slab littered with steel and building materials until someone with deep pockets comes along and pays off a few debts. The skaters sure love it in the meantime.

I reported some time ago in digitalBURG that Hilty Quarries Inc., of Clinton, a subcontractor for the project, filed a lawsuit in February 2010 to enforce a mechanic’s lien against Hawthorn Development, its related companies and contractors. Hilty wants its $304,487 in labor and materials related to the family entertainment center, according to court records.

Morford Steel Systems Construction Company, the general contractor, has a mechanic’s lien against the developer for nearly $1.3 million. The project’s architect, Davidson-Brown LLC also has a lien for $148,477, according to court records.

The developer’s attorney told me Hawthorne couldn’t pay the contractors because Summit Bank of Kansas City reneged on a loan. He said the developer started on the bowling alley with the understanding that Summit Bank would provide a supplemental loan in addition to a construction loan from Union Bank. Apparently that didn’t happen.

Thus, Hawthorne Land Co. IV LLC and Hawthorne Development LLC are suing Summit Bank of Kansas City for an unspecified amount of damages.

A jury trial was rescheduled twice already and is now set for 9 a.m. Monday, April 16 in Independence. It’s scheduled to take five days.

The longer this case drags on, the more complicated and convoluted it becomes and the less likely a jury trial will ever happen. A settlement is more likely, but don’t count on that happening anytime soon.

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