Monday, November 30, 2009

Waterfront Property Auction Notice Sheds Light

According to the Public Notice, Fri. 11/27/09, for the Dec. 15 Auction, SFI (referred to in the public ad as SFT I, Inc.) will only accept bids for the entire $70 million worth of collateral. It doesn't list the properties.

This would ensure deeper pockets on the part of the bidder, but also deflates hopes expressed here of AP getting a group of developers. SFI is reserving the right to bid on the properties itself, so depending on how much they really think the parcels are worth, they may or may not be the new master developer.

Of course, Madison Marquette could step forward and bid up the package, but aren't they spread pretty thin already with their dealings here? Boardwalk vendors are griping about having to stay open all year 'round, and say the sales don't meet the $ they can make. In some cases, they say, it's not worth the cost to employ a minimum wage worker to sit there all day.

What if the City demanded the taxes on these parcels and moved to take them from the Partners? That way they can void the agreement with the Partners and open the redevelopment for a current market review yes, but more importantly free the properties for smaller developments by smaller developers, less to tackle -- thus greatly diversifying our risk.

Bottom line: we need a Master Developer on our payroll, with a land use law grounding with architectural skills or knowledge and the ability to manage the construction of a mixed residential/destination community. If Don Sammet feels he can handle the job, I’d endorse him in a minute. Whoever has got to be on our payroll, answering to the taxpayers and not the developers or the lawyers who work for them when they're not working for us. Then that individual can negotiate contracts, using our land use attorneys -- I'd recommend Bill Ward for starters -- with firm timelines, financial due diligence, non-performance penalties, and one more thing; all should be done in the light of day before the public.

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