Downtown Parking Deck Poll

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.

From the Fayetteville Observer, yesterday:

“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?


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Time doesn’t stop in a pandemic, although it may feel that way at times.

Closed Sessions and Hidden Agendas (Downtown Development)

The City of Fayetteville has an online registry of city council meetings with accompanying agendas and minutes.

https://cityoffayetteville.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx

You can search the meetings by calendar year. If you search the year 2020, there is only one meeting that is missing its agenda and minutes: July 20, 2020.

That’s odd, right?

Well, someone sent me a copy of the minutes from the “missing” meeting. You still can’t get them off the City’s website, but you can download them with this link:

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.

FAST FORWARD TO 1:25:00

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.

Now you know.

Basement Bailouts For Prince Charles Holdings (Downtown Fayetteville)

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:

Bailing Out a Sinking Ship

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.

FayBaseball
PCH and City Marketing Graphic

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.

PCH Urban Greenhouse – Hay Street – Fayetteville, NC

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:

Unit R1 on April 21, 2021

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.

Know anyone good?

Get the Damn Shot, Fayetteville

I wrote a post mid-pandemic criticizing Cape Fear Valley Hospital for not assisting enough with vaccination roll-out.

Here’s how it started:

Due to the nature of our for-profit health care system, a tremendous responsibility lies with regional hospitals to help coordinate and distribute the Covid vaccine. Here in Fayetteville, Cape Fear Valley Hospital needs to step up to the plate and save lives in the community that keeps it in business.

Well, Cape Fear Valley has stepped up in a major way. They hit a home run. It’s so good, people are driving into Fayetteville from out of town because it’s so easy to get vaccinated here.

But…today I read this:

This is beyond aggravating. Are we intentionally trying to make 2020 drag into 2022?

The iPhone is finally getting a facepalm emoji

In all seriousness, a selfish, ignorant decision to abstain from the vaccine means you could catch Covid and spread it to a vulnerable person, killing them. And you’re cool with that, Fayetteville?

Local leaders of every race, political party, church and institution need to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. It’s time for tough love.

If we can’t come together to end a pandemic that upended our way of life, then we didn’t deserve it to begin with.

Mayor Colvin Ignores His Own Reality

Racial tensions are brewing over a movement to add at-large seats to the Fayetteville City Council.

Mayor Colvin weighed in recently. His comments to the Fayetteville Observer caught my attention. Colvin opposes the change:

“They know better than anyone the history of our city, to where there was significant imbalance between minority leadership being elected because of the way the system was set up, so much so that the Justice Department had to come in and make the adjustment for us,” Colvin said. “And so it just looks a little disingenuous that past council members, most of which who were beaten in this system, now want to change the rules and dilute the voting power of the minority community.”

Colvin has won multiple city-wide elections. The citizens that elect him every two years are the exact same people that will be voting for or against the at-large seats at issue. Apparently, Colvin thinks the residents of Fayetteville are good enough to elect him, but can’t be trusted to give other African Americans a fair shake? It’s kind of hard to figure. It also ignores the reality that in 2021, there are more African American voters than white voters in Cumberland County.

I realize that at-large seats pose a problem for individuals without significant resources. It’s expensive to run for office city-wide. Democrats like Mayor Colvin are often forced to contend with the influence of wealthy business interests that rally behind Republican candidates. However, Mayor Colvin went straight to skin color, as if poor white people in Fayetteville don’t have the same disadvantages as poor black people to fund a campaign.

Fractions Increase Factions

I continue to support at-large districts. My support starts with the premise that we are a divided city. We chop ourselves up into camps. Some are racial. Some are financial. Some are partisan. Unsurprisingly, the politics in City Hall reflect these divisions. Council members fight it out in special committees, if they can even agree on who’s going to lead the committee. If they can’t, they’ll make two committees to do the same thing.

This could change if we’re given the option to vote for a majority of the council with the use of at-large seats. To get elected, council members would have to build consensus on issues that impact the entire city. This would require political compromise, something the city desperately needs. Simply put, a majority of the council would represent the entire city, not 1/9th.

Speaking of fractions, look at our turnout in municipal elections. It’s in the single digits lately and lags behind the rest of the state. Why go vote if you only get to vote for one city council member? Most people don’t. Here’s a chart of the votes our council members received in the 2019 municipal election. There were 149,847 registered voters in Fayetteville at that time:

District 1Jenson 819 votes 0.55% of Registered Voters
District 2Ingram705 votes0.47% of Registered Voters
District 3Waddell1,334 votes0.89% of Registered Voters
District 4Haire1,164 votes0.78% of Registered Voters
District 5Dawkins 1,016 votes0.68% of Registered Voters
District 6Davis 1,019 votes0.68% of Registered Voters
District 7Wright893 votes0.60% of Registered Voters
District 8Banks-McLaughlin672 votes0.45% of Registered Voters
District 9Kinston658 votes0.44% of Registered Voters

Can we honestly defend this system? You can be elected to the Fayetteville City Council with the support of less than 1/2 of 1% of the registered voters in town. As long as you keep your tiny pocket of supporters happy, you’re back in office in two years.

Wrap-Up

We’ve had the current system in place for 21 years. I’m not happy with the direction of the city I’m choosing to raise my sons in. It could be so much better. That’s why I’m supporting a change. Whatever happens, dividing people on racial lines goes against everything we stand for as Americans. As long as those in power continue to filter every political decision through a racial lens, we’ll never progress as a city.

Are we doomed to fight this same fight every couple of decades?

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I hope not.