“Corporations are people, my friend.”– Willard “Mitt” Romney
Dropping by the Newsroom
After some fairly decent reporting about the downtown development drama in Fayetteville, our paper’s editorial board has taken the position that the the City of Fayetteville and Prince Charles Holdings are officially a thing. This relationship is here to stay, and naysayers can get out of the way:
City risks aside, the idea in some quarters that the Prince Charles people are getting over is not true. This is a true partnership, to include the Woodpeckers, where the partners are hand-in-hand and will rise or fall together.
“City risks aside…,” I love that. All relationships have risks, right? And you can’t really love unless you’re willing to risk everything.
Sarcasm aside…a few weeks before the Observer’s opinion piece ran, someone made a relevant public records request. (I would take credit if it was me. It wasn’t). The request was one sentence long, and it was answered by City officials the next day:
So let’s discover whom we’re going to walk hand-in-hand with into the future of downtown Fayetteville:
Apparently, we don’t get to.
What it Means
Our deal with Prince Charles Holdings (PCH) is what we call an “economic development incentive.” In short, we are giving PCH something in exchange for PCH’s investment in downtown. In this case, we are giving PCH a 16+ million dollar parking deck to use for $1.66 per space, per day. In return, we are getting increased tax revenue and jobs in the form of offices and a hotel.
Here’s the rub: PCH is not a Black and Decker, Walmart, Dell, or B.M.W. In short, it’s not a publicly traded company with a track record of honoring its financial obligations. My pre-school son has existed longer than PCH and has probably honored more promises.
All of this makes it worthwhile to know, or at least know the identity of, the folks we are dealing with. Is it local businessmen and investors we can trust, with a history of fair dealing? Have any of them personally guaranteed PCH’s obligations? The “risk” so swiftly brushed aside by the Observer is born entirely by the taxpayers of Fayetteville. If the synthetic-tiff (google it) financing fails, the City will have two choices: increase taxes or cut city services to pay for the new construction.
I’m willing to bet that most of the members of the Fayetteville City Council have no idea who invested in PCH. If they do, do you think they have an obligation to tell the public before they give PCH another 2 million dollars of our tax money in May? If they won’t tell us, the Fayetteville Observer needs a new headline because while the City Council and PCH may be hand-in-hand partners, the public never got a key to the closed-door meetings that lead to this relationship.
When Jordan Jones “dropped by the Fayetteville Observer offices” a few weeks ago (apparently he gets to do that), he wanted people to know that PCH has “serious skin in the game” and that the public is “unaware just how deep (PCH) is launching out into the sea.”
I’d feel a little bit better if I knew who was really steering the ship.