OFS files lawsuit against developer

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Norcross fiber optics company has filed suit against a Pennsylvania firm that planned to buy its land to develop a mixed-use community, claiming the real estate developer did not pay $5 million it owed for the purchase.

OFS Brightwave planned to sell 75 acres of mostly abandoned land at its Norcross fiber optics plant to Preferred Real Estate Investments, a company that redevelops factories and warehouses in the Midwest and Northeast.

Sherry Salyer, a spokeswoman for OFS, said the deal was supposed to close in September. A lawsuit filed in Gwinnett County's Superior Court Monday claims that Preferred failed to insert $4.5 million into an escrow account in June.

An additional $500,000, entered into the account in March, has been frozen by Preferred, the lawsuit says.

In all, OFS is seeking nearly $10 million plus attorney's fees in the lawsuit. In addition to the $5 million that should have been placed in escrow, the company said it spent $4.75 million to reroute utilities and relocate some of its operations.

Scott Tattar, a spokesman for Preferred, said he could not discuss why the contract with OFS had been terminated.

"It is what it is," he said. "We hope to still establish a positive presence in the Atlanta market. Hopefully, that will happen sooner than later."

Salyer said OFS still plans to sell the land, and that a number of local developers are interested in purchasing the property on Jimmy Carter Boulevard at Interstate 85. She does not expect the sale to come through this year.

The sale of the land is not a part of OFS' operational budget, Salyer said, but is a good opportunity to redevelop the area and lure young homeowners and commercial investors. She emphasized the fact that OFS would not be abandoning its operations with the sale.

"We're not going away," she said. "We're not exiting that land. ... We're looking for good tenants to be our neighbors."

Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, which is holding the $500,000 in escrow, is also a defendant in the suit.