The Mall That Ate Katy

Big money, big lobbyists, big tax breaks. The Mills Corporation is bringing one of its "megamalls" to Katy, and it's hardly business as usual in the little town on the prairie.

Allen had already secured enough votes to push the sale through Council when a lobbyist for the Chelsea-DeBartalo partnership -- Sports Authority chairman Jack Rains -- jumped into the fray. Rains managed to have the Council vote delayed for a week, giving his client a chance to come up with a counter offer.

Indeed, by October 1, a number of councilmembers were pushing hard for another delay, and they appeared to have the support of Mayor Bob Lanier. But the motion to delay approval of the ETJ sale was defeated by an 8-to-7 vote, and the actual sale was approved unanimously a moment later.

That Katy would approve the transaction at the October 13 City Council meeting was almost a foregone conclusion. But the residents of Pin Oak Village and Falcon Point expected a little bit more from the Katy City Council.

During a brief discussion of the ETJ purchase, Councilman Malcolm Beckendorff noted that the language in the purchase agreement had changed, leaving some doubt as to who would be picking up the check for the land.

Mayor Hank Schmidt turned to the audience and called up a young V&E associate for clarification. As the lawyer made his way to the podium, Beckendorff said, "Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against the mall."

Not a problem, the lawyer replied. The Mills Corporation, he explained, would "advance" the $1.25 million to close the sale, with the understanding that the city was under no obligation to repay the loan -- as long as Katy Mills got built, that is.

The lawyer had started back to his seat when Beckendorff, worried about how his query might play 25 miles away, made a final request: "Please tell Joe B. Allen that I did not raise this question.

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