Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Waco power couple many want to blame for McLennan County’s rising property values, are suing the McLennan County Appraisal District over appraisals on six of their Magnolia properties.
The properties, including Magnolia Market at the Silos and Magnolia Table, are collectively valued on the district rolls at $17.3 million.
“The Texas Constitution requires that property not be appraised at a value greater that fair cash value and that taxation is equal and uniform,” the lawsuit states. “The properties, as appraised, are at values greater than fair cash values and are being taxed in a manner and amount that is not equal and uniform. Therefore, the values are excessive and unlawful.”
The suit was filed Friday in Waco’s 414th State District Court on behalf of Magnolia-related entities by San Antonio attorney Rahul B. Patel, who did not return phone messages left at his office Monday.
The suit does not specify how much of the appraised values are in dispute but asks the court set the correct value.
Plaintiffs involved in MCAD appeals and lawsuits typically pay the majority of their taxes on time while withholding the disputed portion until the conflicts are resolved.
The appraisals under dispute include the land and structures, not inventory, said MCAD Assistant Chief Appraiser Joe Don Bobbitt.
The properties named in the lawsuit have already been appealed to the Appraisal Review Board, a panel appointed by a local district judge to hear taxpayer protests. The panel reduced the value of several properties.
The disputed properties include:
- Magnolia Press, the coffee shop currently under construction in a renovated building at 418 S. Eighth St. The appraisal district valued it at $1.42 million, a value that the ARB upheld. Last year, Magnolia officials protested an appraised value of $1.21 million but later withdrew the protest, records show.
- Magnolia Market at the Silos, the nationally famous retail destination at 601 Webster Ave. Appraisers set the value at $6.85 million, which the ARB reduced to $6.4 million. Last year, the ARB reduced the appraisal from $5.46 million to $5.11 million.
- Magnolia Table, which opened in February 2018 at the former Elite Café at 2132 S. Valley Mills Drive. The restaurant was appraised this year at $4.85 million but reduced to $4.12 million on appeal. It was appraised in 2018 at $3.63 million, a value the ARB upheld.
- The parking lot for the Magnolia Table at 2009 Circle Road. It was appraised this year at $1.01 million, up from a 2018 value of $486,350. The ARB reduced this year’s value to $856,280.
- A building owned Magnolia Headquarters at 6400 Imperial Drive. The ARB upheld a 2019 appraisal of $2.37 million, which the ARB kept the same. Last year, MCAD appraised the property at $2.2 million, which was lowered to $2.08 million in the protest process.
- Magnolia Warehouse, 601 Jewell Drive. The ARB upheld a 2019 appraisal of $2.12 million. Last year, it was appraised at $2.15 million, which was reduced to $1.85 million in another settlement.
Bobbitt said lawsuits against appraisal districts come with the territory and are “kind of the cost of doing business for us.”
There have been nine new lawsuits filed against the appraisal district so far this year. MCAD currently is a defendant in 70 active lawsuits, Bobbitt said.