OCDA Allegedly Reneged On Deal

WHEELING – THF Realty – a company hired by the Ohio County Development Authority to land new tenants for The Highlands – is suing the OCDA for $75,000 for breach of contract.

But the OCDA says it is THF that is in the wrong.

According to the suit filed Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, THF Realty was hired by the authority as its “exclusive leasing agent” for the site.

The company claims the breach of contract occurred when the authority brokered deals with three tenants – Logan’s Roadhouse, GameStop and Sears Hometown – without first referring those companies to THF to complete the deal. THF claims the OCDA agreed to pay it a commission on all new leases for the site.

In its response to the suit, however, the authority claims THF breached the contract though it does not specify how. The authority notes it has not paid THF because of that breach. The authority also “demands a jury trial” on the issues.

“The OCDA contends that THF Realty Inc. clearly breached the Commission Agreement contract thus voiding with respect to any obligations the OCDA had with respect to the same Agreement.

“THF Realty … comes to this litigation with ‘unclean hands’ and should not be permitted to prevail given the nature and extent of THF’s failure to comply with the Commission Agreement,” the response states.

During an Oct. 26, 2010, meeting Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart said the authority hired THF, based in St. Louis, to help land new tenants for the site. He said THF would receive a 6 percent commission on each new lease deal it brought to the site.

At that time, he said the company had dealt with a variety of corporations and done lease deals with those retailers across the country. THF developed the Ohio Valley Plaza in St. Clairsville. Stewart also noted in 2010 that he would still be involved with the lease deals, noting he had eight to 12 tenants interested in coming to The Highlands.

The suit notes THF has sent the authority the following invoices: $15,000 for the Sears leasing commission; $5,841 for the Game Stop leasing commission; and $50,000 for the Logan’s leasing commission.

“The THF case involves a contractual dispute between THF and the OCDA over the performance of each party with respect to leasing at The Highlands. The OCDA has filed a response denying any liability or fault and claimed in the response that THF did not uphold its end of the deal. The OCDA will vigorously defend this case in court,” Ohio County Solicitor Donald Tennant said.

THF’s general counsel did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.