May 24, 2010

Downtown plan under review by City Council

To begin the City Council session on the proposed agreement with Renaissance Downtowns, the city attorney, Edward Krawiecki, Jr, gave a short lecture on how the city got to this point.
The negotiations since January focused on creating the milestones the preferred developer would need to meet.
Krawiecki said the scope of studies for the concept plan are a key element, slated to be ready by June 25. The city would have a month to review them.
"That's the first major milestone," Krawiecki said.
Krawiecki said the piece that is "probably the most significant" comes by Feb. 25, when the developer has to provide site-specific conceptual planning, including the relocation of McDonald's; what to do with the grocery store; the layout proposed uses and potential tenants, layouts of walkways, roads and the like; the possibility of a transportation center; and more.
It should provide the overall vision for the site and the greater downtown area, since Renaissance can reach beyond the city-owned 17 acres where the mall once stood.
At the same time, the developer would propose the phasing sequence for getting the work done.
He'll also have to give an idea of what the construction and infrastructure improvements may look like.
Don Monti, the owner of Renaissance, has said he doesn't intend to spring anything on the city. He said he views it as a collaborative effort, Krawiecki said. There will likely be meetings, open houses, hearings and the like as part of the process.
The city has agreed to rent Monti space at City Hall, Krawiecki said. That should be up and running "in very, very quick fashion."
The final concept plan approval is slated for May 25, 2012, a point where either side can terminate the deal.
That's "the drop dead date" where the final plan will be clear, the attorney said.
A project plan is due to the state Department of Economic and Community Development by April 25, 2011. It isn't clear yet how much involvement the state will have, since nobody knows what the state's role may be.
"There's a lot of players involved in this," Krawiecki said.
Renaissance will supply the final concept plan based on all of its research and planning. The city then gets 45 to comment and suggest revisions.
But, of course, the city hopes to have been involved all along so there shouldn't be any serious surprise at that point.
Krawiecki said the best developments have continuous discussions and a cooperative spirit throughout.
Once the final plan is in place, the initial closing date must occur by May 25, 2014 -- four years from now.
"There's an awful lot of work that goes in" before the closing can happen, Krawiecki said.
Assuming there is an initial closing, whenever that happens, there is a requirement that subsequent purchases take place in 12 month increments.
"Our primary concern is that we want a vibrant downtown developed," Krawiecki said, so officials want to ensure "that whatever we do with Renaissance is something we can all be proud of."
If no construction occurs by May 25, 2015, either party could, again, terminate the deal.
In addition, there are a lot of detailed issues within the agreement.
The sale of the property is probably of the most interest.
To value the property, we will appraise it at the time of the final concept approval. That includes the fair market value.
Krawiecki said Renaissance and the city each hire appraisers. Assuming the numbers are within 10 percent, "we will work it out." If it's more, then the two appraisers pick a third appraiser and "we'll live with that."
The price then is the fair market value or $2.1 million, whichever is higher. That number comes from a 2007 valuation at $150,000 an acre. a It's now worth 30-40 percent less, Krawiecki said, given the market turnaround.
The $2.1million also comes from the mixed use idea that Monti initially suggested -- 750 housing units, a small hotel and office and retail space.
The key conditions for a closing require the developer to show it has the funding to cover the project's costs, that environmental necessities are met, that permits are in place and that construction can begin within 90 days.
All told, Krawiecki said, the city is doing all it can to protect its interests in this deal.
The city lawyer said the minimum project for first phase would be least 200 housing units, 10,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space and other amenities, along with sufficient parking.
"We would be able to see a substantial beginning" before closing the deal, Krawiecki said.
So far, nobody has talked except Krawiecki.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

Seems like the city is back in the Real Estate Business, renting space in city hall.

Can't this administration get it right?
What is the attorney thinking?

Anonymous said...

Will this be beter than a Boys Club and swimming pool, or will Ed still get his pool?

Anonymous said...

Looks like Ed is runningthe show, and running Ward too!

Why doesn't he just run for mayor and get it over with?

Anonymous said...

Why is the city competing with tax paying property owners by renting space in city hall as opposed to having the developer rent from those who rent and have property to rent?

Anonymous said...

And so far, a weel later, no one has talked except Krawiecki.

Couture had his Diamantis, Ward has own Diamantis.