By Megan Rule | Staff Writer
Magnolia Market is being sued for a gate that was put up across an alley in downtown Waco that blocks access to the property of Daron Farmer, managing member of Head Properties.
Farmer filed the lawsuit on Oct. 5, against Magnolia and defendant Chip Gaines, alleging the gate put up by Magnolia blocks access to Farmer’s property, which had been previously leased to Magnolia. The lawsuit specifies that the gate blocks Farmer’s property for those going from Webster Avenue using the Seventh Street alleyway.
According to the lawsuit, Farmer has continued to allow access for Magnolia customers to park on the property but said he would begin charging a parking fee to visitors beginning Oct. 3. On Oct. 3, the defendants put up a barrier blocking any traffic and have failed to remove the barrier despite requests from Farmer.
“We, for the past year, have used that parking lot to allow Magnolia customers to park for free,” said Robert Little, the lawyer representing Magnolia Market. “We understand Farmer would charge $10 to park there and did not want customers to think we were charging.”
Farmer seeks between $200,000 and $1 million in damages from Magnolia. According to the lawsuit, the damages sought are within the jurisdictional limits of the Waco 414th State District Court.
“For as long as anyone can remember, and for certainly more than 10 years, the old South Seventh Street alleyway has been open for ingress and egress for pedestrian, automobile and other traffic accessing both Plaintiff’s property,” the lawsuit states.
The previous owner of Farmer’s property had signed a one-year lease agreement with Magnolia for a portion of the property in question to be used as a parking lot for Magnolia. The lease ended on Sept. 30, 2016. Farmer acquired the property in July of 2016 and has since been negotiating with the defendants for the purchase of the property. A price has not been established yet.
“I’m not sure if it is Farmer specifically, but someone has been allowing my employees to park in that lot after Magnolia’s lease was up,” said Courtney Rogers, owner and operator of CoTown Crepes, which has a foodtruck at Magnolia Market. “I am so incredibly thankful because parking is a challenge, so because of that, we have been especially glad to have access to the parking lot.”
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, when the order went to court Oct. 6, Judge Vicki Menard did not sign the order based on the information she had received. Attorneys were invited back the following day for a hearing, and the plaintiff’s attorney did not show.
According to Little, Magnolia says that they have no issue with Farmer running his business and going about his daily life. They just ask that customers now park around the corner.