Ward: Dueling due diligenceWritten by Lisa Renee Ward | | firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the easiest way to get an idea of the different opinions within our local government on the proposed sale of the Marina District? Sharing some selected comments made during a more than one-hour discussion on the topic at the April 12 Toledo City Council Agenda Review:
Councilman D. Michael Collins: “Before any final decision is made by this Council, I would expect that the prospective purchaser provide within the instrument of purchase, a complete business plan — defining schedules, financing, marketing and all of those essentials that would be required under a business plan for a conventional loan.”
Collins also wanted the time changed for the reverter to be 24 months instead of five years; if 51 percent of the business plan was not complete, the property would revert to the City for $2 million.
Law Director Adam Loukx: “What we are talking about here is an arms-length transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller for the sale of real estate. … The purchaser can say, ‘We’ve looked at your language and sayonara.’ This is different than what we have done with this property in the past.”
Collins: “We must negotiate from a position where we are not begging for a sale. … We are not in a position of weakness.”
Mayor Michael Bell: “We’re not in a begging mode. We’re a city that just came out of a $48 million deficit. What we have to realize here is, outside of buying this property, they are not asking the City for anything. So any of the capital that’s going to be put into this project, they’re not asking you for anything. Everybody else that has come in here and attempted to do anything with that property, has said ‘I’m willing to do this but — but I need this from the City,’ or ‘I need that from the City.’ They’re not saying that. They’re saying, ‘Look, let us pay for the property, here’s what we intend to do, if you get out of the way we can make this thing work.’
“With the way it’s going with just the first few questions here … it’s similar to Toledo slowdown. People want to know why things don’t happen here in this City. You’re seeing an example of some of this and you will call it due diligence but other people listening will call it something else.
“We’ve done what was asked of us from a standpoint of trying to create economic development in an area nobody else wanted until we went and found somebody. So we’re sitting here doing the dance now, so it is a little bit frustrating, but it’s OK. I mean, I respect that you’re 12 members of Council and you have the ability to do whatever you need to do. But I can tell you that this company, if given these stipulations, will walk away from this deal.”
Councilman Steve Steel: “I wasn’t going to respond directly to the mayor’s soliloquy. … Mr. Mayor, one of the significant differences between this group and any of the others who have ever come in is, we know absolutely nothing about them. They’re 12 time zones away and we don’t know anything about their track record. We don’t know what kind of labor they use, we don’t know what kind of development they do.”
Steel referenced his previous two requests for resumes and portfolios that had not been answered.
Bell: “Can I say though that you had that from [Larry] Dillin and you have nothing to show for it. …. What I’m saying is, did he have a track record? And are we right now on the hook for about $3.5 million? Absolutely. Have we ever asked in the past from anybody that is willing to invest in the City of Toledo, ‘Where does your money come from?’”
Steel: “Yes, yes. Of course and of course we’re going to ask for your track record and what kind of development you’ve done. With Larry Dillin we knew, we’d seen what he had done. You can roll your eyes if you wish, I suppose but that’s …”
Bell: “I’m looking at a project that’s not done on the other side of the river, I’m looking at a bill that’s coming due, shortly, that we have no money for, that we guaranteed for Larry Dillin.”
Councilman Adam Martinez: “I don’t even know where to start, Mr. Mayor. I certainly understand your passion and frustration because this Council has double standards when it comes to development. We were willing to give Mr. Carney (Berdan Building) $12 million of federal subsidy without even having an appraisal.”
Councilman Mike Craig: “If anybody takes the tape of this and sends it out to future investors of the City of Toledo you can forget about investment here for a long, long time. All the people in this room will be either very, very old or very, very dead.
“You think this is generating good will? Telling somebody you can come in here, invest $100 million and in two years we’re going to take it back for $2 million? Wow. That’s going to get people knocking our doors down.”
Councilman Rob Ludeman wanted this heard April 19 in the Economic Development Committee, on which he serves as chairman. Several other members, including Councilwoman Lindsay Webb wanted it in Committee of the Whole and felt April 19 was too soon.
Council President Wilma Brown said there would be a Committee of the Whole hearing; she would let Council know the time and date.
Webb: “We need to take the time to deliberate as a body as cautioned by The Blade and some of the comments today.”
Ludeman: “I’ll say this nicely, I hope you are not insinuating that I’m trying to railroad this project in any way, manner or form. It’s obvious that it should be heard in the Economic Development Committee as was The Docks. … There’s nothing in the memo that says I would call for a vote but it needs to be started.”
It started …
Toledo Free Press Web Editor Lisa Renee Ward operates the political blog Glass City Jungle