A few things happened in that meeting that don’t add up:
The City Council decided to buy basement-level retail space in the unfinished parking deck downtown for $550,000.
The City Council asked the City Manager to conduct a forensic audit of “areas of concern” in the parking deck project.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? Apparently, we need a forensic audit because we’re not sure where our money’s going. In the meantime, we’re going to spend more money on the same project!?
And why is the City of Fayetteville going into the retail real estate business? That’s not really the purview of city government. Instead, our expert developer partners (Jordan Jones, Mike Lemanski, et al.) are supposed to be doing the developing. That’s their job. That was the point of the entire project.
It doesn’t make sense on its face, and because it’s all done in secret, you’re left guessing why the City of Fayetteville would buy a portion of a parking deck it already paid to build.
A lawsuit was filed a few weeks after the closed meeting. Hay Street Development Pad, LLC (our development “partner”) was sued for $482,518.89, plus interest, by the contractor it hired to build the deck. The lawsuit was quickly and quietly resolved. You didn’t read about it in the Fayetteville Observer.
It’s quite possible that your tax dollars were used to pay off the Plaintiff in this lawsuit. Think about it. The City of Fayetteville can’t pay it because it’s not a party to the suit. And the city can’t just give Hay Street Development Pad cash. That’s probably illegal, actually. Instead, we bought the undesirable basement space in the back of the deck to get Hay Street Development Pad a quick $550,000.
Bada Bing, Bada Boom.
In the meantime, our Mayor and City Council act “concerned” and mention a “forensic audit” because they’re trying to cover their tails.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s a coincidence. You can decide for yourself. The point is we may never know. This deal started behind closed doors and it didn’t stop. Every important decision along the way, millions spent, happened in a closed room under the guise of “economic development” or “attorney client privilege.”
It’s not the way a government of the people is supposed to operate. Just ask this guy:
Your city leadership in Fayetteville spent 18 Million Tax Dollars to finance a parking deck in downtown Fayetteville. The city’s private development “partners” were supposed to build high-rise offices and a hotel on top of the deck. So far, that hasn’t happened.
“Construction for the facilities on top of the deck is anticipated to start back up again in late summer or early fall, (Jordan) Jones said, though developers are still trying to determine the pandemic’s impact on the project long-term.”
With that said, when do you think we’ll get a return on our investment?
Time doesn’t stop in a pandemic, although it may feel that way at times.
There’s a video of the meeting online. By comparing the video with the minutes, you can figure out what legislation was passed. It takes some work, too much work in fact.
At 1:25:00, the very end of the meeting, the council goes into closed session for something that is “attorney-client privileged.” The video goes out. Earlier, the mayor had mentioned there were “very expensive lawyers” present.
The closed session with these “very expensive” lawyers lasts well over an hour.
When they get back from their closed session, they vote to approve a motion about what they discussed in the back room. They don’t even read the whole motion. The audio goes in and out. No one talks about the matter in any detail. Several people start packing up their purses and they just vote on it.
In case you’re wondering, they voted to give Prince Charles Holdings $550,000 of your tax dollars in exchange for “retail” space which you now own. This space is located in the basement of an unfinished parking deck that we already paid 18 Million to build. By the way, we don’t own the deck, we just own the parking spaces in the deck. Despite owning the spaces, we can’t use them. We are leasing them back to the owners of the deck, cheap.
Our $550,000 “retail” investment looked like this a few days ago:
Unsurprisingly, no one in the press picked this up, and it’s pretty clear that was the intended outcome.
Congratulations Fayetteville Taxpayer! You’re now in the commercial real estate business! You are the proud owner of Unit “R1” in the “Stadium View Condominium” project on Hay Street. The space is located in the rear corner of the first floor of your new parking deck.
Your good Mayor and City Council quietly purchased this fine space for $550,000.00 in August while most of you were probably preoccupied with Covid-19:
Under the latest amendment, Prince Charles Holdings (PCH) gets another $550,000.00 in tax money, on top of what we paid them for the parking deck. They were several years late finishing the deck, went millions over-budget, and they haven’t built anything on top of it like they promised. I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about Covid as an excuse. Let me remind you that PCH was supposed to start building on top of the deck before we even knew what Covid was:
We brokered this deal with PCH because they were the development experts. They were the ones that were supposed to attract business to downtown Fayetteville and fill up the commercial real estate that we were helping them build. This was supposed to increase property tax values in the area and finance the debt we took to build the baseball stadium.
When you look at the big picture, it’s apparent to anyone with a brain that PCH is not going to honor this deal. Whatever the reason, be it Covid or the current price of steel, the smart thing to do was to follow suit and cut our losses. Instead, our City leaders were too afraid to let this thing fall apart on their watches and dropped another $550k of your money to keep the ship afloat a little longer.
You can’t justify this anymore. It is what it is.
In closing, if you go to a Woodpecker’s game this Summer, check out your new “Retail” unit. It’ll be down the steps, to the left of the entrance to the stadium:
From the looks of R1, I think we’re going to need some Downtown Development Experts to help us find a tenant for our new space.