I love a good fight as much as anyone does, and the one shaping up between Mayor Lenny Curry and the Sleiman family is a real doozy.

 

After months of verbal wrangling, the feud now heads to court.

While I find the prospect of dueling parties having to give sworn testimony in public intriguing, Downtown’s renaissance is going to suffer the longer this squabble continues.

And lawsuits aren’t resolved quickly. Another lawsuit pitting the city against Sleiman Enterprises involving the Landing was filed in 2015 and remains unresolved.

Other properties critical to Downtown’s resurgence are finally moving forward, such as the redevelopment of the Barnett building and the Laura Street Trio.

But the city-owned land on the Downtown riverfront where the Landing sits and the Landing itself are fast becoming known as a dump after the involvement of the Sleimans in what was once considered a Downtown jewel.

When the Landing opened in 1987, it might have been a good idea for the city to keep ownership of the land while the developer of the mall, the Rouse Company, owned the building.

But that was then and this is now.

The biblical admonition that a house divided against itself can’t stand is evident in this case.

I’ve followed Toney Sleiman for years.

One thing to know about Sleiman is if you are running for public office, you don’t want him on your side.

After battling John Peyton while Peyton was mayor, Sleiman threw his support to Mike Hogan in the next mayoral race.

Alvin Brown won.

Then Sleiman became chummy with Brown and supported his re-election bid.

Curry won.

Another thing to know about Sleiman is that he and his family develop strip shopping centers and he has the vision of a strip shopping center developer.

Another trait Sleiman has is that there is always something else with him.

He has complained for years that the city has failed to meet its obligation to provide enough parking for the Landing that would allow him to attract big-name chain restaurants to the mall.

Every time an apparent solution was worked out, usually after painful negotiations, it wasn’t enough, which is the subject of the 2015 lawsuit.

Now the lawsuit that was filed last week by Sleiman Enterprises is blaming the city for the deteriorating conditions at the Landing.

Sometimes it’s best to just cut your losses and move on. The Rouse Company did that when it sold the Landing to Sleiman in 2003 for $5.1 million, far short of the almost $20 million it had put into construction of the Landing.

Curry, who doesn’t treat political enemies kindly, should just swallow hard. And he should just buy the Sleimans out.

Offer $10 million and a chance for the Sleimans to double their money.

Toney Sleiman always says that he cares about Downtown.

Well, let’s find out if he really does.

Or if that’s just more smoke.

With the city in control of the Landing property, we could move quickly to create what should be a showpiece for Downtown instead of an eyesore.

That’s critical with plans underway to redevelop the nearby sites of the old county courthouse and city hall.

Personally, I would tear the Landing down and create more open space with attractions that would add excitement to Downtown.

But that’s for the experts to decide.

I just know that having the Landing continue as a place for drunken revelry after the occasional football game or other event while a court case drags on for years is not what Downtown needs.

It’s time to hit the negotiating table.

It’s time to get this done.

ron.littlepage@jacksonville.com • (904) 359-4284