Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The battle over approval of the Barber Group's controversial Divinity project on Dickson Street was ranked the Number One local news story of 2006. Not a surprising pick since Greg Harton and the editorial board of the Northwest Arkansas Times supported the project and gloated about its approval.
It was another of those almost predictable events where the Planning Commission stood strong and denied approval of the project because it was inconsistent with the Downtown Master Plan, but then Developer Dan Coody and his majority on the City Council lusted for tax revenues and approved it by 5-3 last July.
You had to think the Divinity Deal was seriously suspect when it was opposed by both Fran Alexander and Mike Masterson. You knew they were right when Candy Clark opposed it on the Planning Commission and when Aldermen Lioneld Jordan, Shirley Lucas, and Kyle Cook voted against it when it came before the Council. Then citizens Mike Shirkey and Peter Tooker sued the City for violating its own policies in approving the project.
Today, the final domino fell like a row of mailboxes run over by a SUV, and the Barber Group announced that it was withdrawing its plans for the Divinity hotel and condominium project on Dickson Street between Church and Block Avenues. Good.