December 17, 2009

Janelle: Concerned Renaissance only looking to 'flip' former mall site


From: Jennifer Janelle
Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2009 9:31 AM
To: Theresa Sharretto; Arthur Ward; David Sheridan; Edward Krawiecki; Frank Johnson; Gardner Wright Jr.; John Leone; John Lodovico Jr.; Ken Cockayne; Mary Suchopar; Phil Michalowski; Richard Harrall; Richard Kallenbach; Thomas Cosgrove
Subject: Renaissance Downtowns


Board Members:
I am very concerned about the article in this morning’s paper that states that Dick Harrell fully vetted Renaissance Downtowns.  During executive session, I specifically asked about certain due diligence procedures and questions and Dick’s response was “Nashua did 8 months of due diligence and that is good enough for me.”  Last night, I spent about 3.5 hours researching Renaissance and Don Monti.  I have attached relevant documents and news reports for your review, which include the following information:

1.       According to the NY Secretary of State, Renaissance Downtowns has only been in existence since May, 2009.  Prior to that they were known as Renaissance Real Estate, which has only been in existence since May 29, 2008.  I have not tracked down Monti’s prior development company, but I think the history of that company is important to our decision.

2.        Monti and his partner, doing business as Glen Isle Partners, were selected for the Glen Cove redevelopment.   6 years later they still had not submitted a conceptual plan for the redevelopment.  The Mayor of Glen Cove criticized Monti and his partner as “inflexible” and “uncooperative.”  In May of 2007, the Mayor of Glen Cove reached out to RexCorp Realty and asked them to either buy out or buy into the project. RexCorp did, and only then was the project able to move forward, with RexCorp taking the lead.  Glen Cove is not the “shining star” project Mr. Monti has represented it to be, based on the reports I have read.  I have a call into the Mayor of Glen Cove to try and get more information.  An excerpt from one of the attached articles:

Mayor Suozzi said, "I had wondered why Glen Isle was so inflexible and always putting out the word that I was inflexible and didn't want to meet, and I realized this is too big a project for them; this is the time for them to make their money. Not so with Scott Rechler and RexCorp." The mayor said he knew that change was needed in the relationship between city and developer. "I have tried to do everything on my part to reach out," he said, adding that he has often told [Glen Isle principal] Mr. Monti that there are different ways to develop the project, "but when I asked for changes, Glen Isle came back three times with the same plan. My goal was never to get rid of [Glen Isle]," he said, "or to not develop the waterfront." The goal, said the mayor, is open, honest negotiations. "Who develops Glen Cove's waterfront is not as important as how the waterfront is developed," Mayor Suozzi said, and he is optimistic that the introduction of Mr. Rechler to the table will "change the tone and tenor" of the current state of affairs on the waterfront.

I urge all Board members to go to www.glenisle.com and read all of the news articles about the tortured history of that project.  I certainly don’t think we expect to spend 24 months negotiating a Preferred Developer Agreement and then wait another 6 years for a conceptual site plan, or have to find a partner to bail out Renaissance.

3.        In addition to Waterbury, Renaissance Downtowns currently has proposals before Norwich and Meriden for the same thing, as reported in a news article I found concerning Nashua.  I have confirmed on the Norwich City Council meeting minutes posted online that Renaissance made their proposal to Norwich on June 15, 2009.  I have a call into Norwich to see what they have promised them.  I am trying to track down the Meriden proposal.

4.       In addition to Waterbury, Meriden, Norwich, and Nashua, the July 2009 edition of New Urban News states that Monti has targeted and is putting in proposals in 22 communities:  Paterson, NJ; Springfield, MA; Nashua, Concord and Manchester, NH; Norwalk, Bridgeport, Waterbury, New Britain, Hartford, Bristol, Meriden, Enfield, Windsor, New Haven, New London and Norwich, CT; Glen Cove, Long Beach, Hempstead, Copaigue and Freeport, New York.    This heightens my concern about being spread too thin (which I raised in executive session) having enough money to go around and spending enough time on Bristol.  I also found City Council minutes which show that a proposal has also been submitted in Bedford, NH.  I specifically requested in Executive Session that we ask how many proposals there are out there and what has been promised to each, but that question was not posed.

5.       The New Urban News article attached states that Monti’s business plan is to very quickly hammer out agreements while the market is bad and before other developers re-enter the market, in order to lock up opportunities.  I have concerns, given the number of projects he is trying to secure and what he is contracted for in Nashua (see below) that the intent here is merely to lock up our downtown until the market improves and then “flip it”.  It does not seem from what I have read that Renaissance intends to be in this for the long haul.

6.       A news article reporting on the Nashua, NH contract states that Monti will remediate the property and obtain permits, after which Nashua will sell him the property so he can “market it for development.”  Not develop it, but market it for development.  I am going to try and get a copy of the Nashua agreement through Freedom of Information, but certainly will not have it prior to Monday’s meeting.

7.       I have read several articles concerning presentations made by Mr. Monti at various planning forums in which he states that in order to do a conceptual plan, there MUST be transit.  I have concerns about what that does to Bristol if the train does not come through (which now it looks like it will not).

In sum, based on today’s newspaper article and based on what I have uncovered (which is by no means complete due diligence), I request a written list of everything Dick Harrell has done to vette this company.  The list should include the name and title of every person he spoke with and attachments of everything he looked at and everything he asked in performing his due diligence.  I request copies of every piece of paper Dick reviewed in coming to his conclusion that this developer is qualified and has the requisite experience to complete this project.  I have many more questions that are standard for due diligence and would be happy to provide a list.  These things include, but are not limited to, how many proposals has Monti submitted and walked away from, how many times has a community accused him of being in breach or of being uncooperative, how many times has he been selected and not been able to negotiate a contract, background information on all of his former companies (how many times were they sued or cited, how many projects were not completed, late or over-budget, etc.).  Since the only real reference he has provided is Glen Cove and that project does not seem to be what was represented, I have a real problem with Renaissance Downtown.  I will raise all of these issues and provide copies of all of the materials I have looked at (which are too voluminous to attach to an email) at the next meeting.

I intend to do much more research over the weekend, and I will do the same vetting for D’Amato.  I have not looked at anything concerning D’Amato yet.

Last, I do not believe that it is my job as a volunteer Board member to be doing this work.  This is what we have paid professionals for.  However, I do not believe it has been done, despite the newspaper report, and if it has, I do not believe it was adequate.  If all of this information was uncovered in a due diligence process performed by Dick Harrell, why was this information not presented to the Board (especially the problems with the Glen Cove project) so that we could all make a fully informed judgment?  I remain convinced that we are rushing into something that will come back to haunt us and that we need to spend the time to be sure we know what we are getting into.
*******
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is that egg I see on Nicastro and Johnson's face.

Anonymous said...

Oooooohhhhh bbbboooooyyyyyy.... Scorching hot from JJ.

Positively Right said...

Sounds like a good reason to go with the good men Ed D'Amato and his son Ed Jr.

Once again I'm right and Collins is wrong.

Good thing the hard-working, bright (and equally hot) Jennifer Jennelle is on the ball on this.

Thank you Jennifer and thank you Collins for reporting this (even though you're a dufus).

Positively Right said...

Remember this is not a tit for tat (figure of speech) contest between Jennelle and Mike Nicastro. These are two people trying to do their job. I'm glad both these folks are with us.

Anonymous said...

Steve:

Should she be talking about what was said in Executive Session.

Can you now FOI any documents from it?

Anonymous said...

If it isn't egg, it should be...still concerned why this wasn't looked at sooner but better Janelle be late to the dance than not show up at all which is what it had appeared to be. Why was this was not brought up PRIOR to taking a vote if it only took 3.5 hours to find and the proposals have been in hand for 60 days? I don't think this second last minute bombshell bodes well for my faith in this group of individuals.

Hell hath no fury....thankfully for Bristol in this case.

Anonymous said...

this has been going on for years have you been in a coma. Or did law school screw your mind up. Lets get real we need tax dollars in.

Anonymous said...

This group is lost they just want attention.

You have got to be kidding me! said...

Ms. Janelle yesterday you made it quite clear that obtaining due diligence on your own was nearly impossible since the developers in question were not "public companies." Looks like you figured out how to use a computer. Most of what you found is a "so what". This stuff came out when Monti first showed up in Bristol. Where have you been? The question still remains why you waited until the last minute to do your job.

Frankly this is nothing more than CYA on your part. Face it you missed 3 meetings in a row and you dropped the ball every which way possible. This is way beyond you.

Anonymous said...

So for this entire time.... it appears that NO ONE on the BDDC has been doing any work. More in-fighting with the call out to Dick H. NICE!!! How much of our tax money did we award this group of morons in the budget? Didn't anyone on the BDDC do ANY research prior to this week? While Ms. Janelle has research capabilities (even though she claims as a volunteer she doesn't feel it is her job), it hardly explains and if anything highlights that the BDDC has demonstrated it is such a miserable failure. Does no one on the BDDC besides Jennifer know how to use Google for godssake? This only took 3.5 hours to do? Then why not do it prior to now? Shame on the entire BDDC.

Anonymous said...

Once again...thank God for Ms. Janelle! She is showing that we are getting royally ripped off by the incompetence of our "leaders" that claim to know what they are doing & are clearly in way over their heads or they are complete liars.
We are paying people to do due diligence and she finds this info out in 3.5 hours! Sounds like something criminal may be going on i.e., getting paid for work that was not done??? If this person cannot produce proof of complete due diligence on both companies, they owe us the money back, they should never be allowed to work for Bristol & possible charges should be brought.
Nicastro & pals you really look like fools, babies & bullies! Remember, she's the one w/ no skin in the game except protecting taxpayers unlike the rest of you.
I am proud to have someone as smart and courageous as Ms. Janelle working as a volunteer. She should be applauded for her efforts to protect the taxpayers of Bristol.
Please hang in there Ms. Janelle!