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Thursday, October 11, 2012
Unexpected success dredging up old blog that had disappeared from public view
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2010
Requium for SouthPass?
It has been six long years since the City ignored the City Plan 2025 and was snookered into an another deal with developers on which the the citizens look like suckers, some of the same developers who were gifted with a $3.7 million TIF deal for a luxury hotel that morphed into a barren parking lot and who would be major campaign contributors to Dan Coody's reelection campaign. With only a City Council resolution authorizing him to negotiate, on September 7, 2004, former Mayor Dan Coody immediately signed a contract with SouthPass Development that had already been prepared and signed by John Nock. When the Council balked in November 2008, City Attorney Kit Williams told them that they had no choice but to approve the development and everything that Coody had promised. Subsequently, Coody waived some of the requirements for the developers, and the City went ahead to build infrastructure that was supposed to be a cost-share project with the developers.
All of the Planned Zoning District and permits for SouthPass were to expire on November 6, 2009, if the Phase One construction was not met. It wasn't. Neither did the developers deliver the required deeds for a 200-acre regional park and 10-acres with water tanks nor the $1 million for park development as required by the contract. All the City has gotten out of this deal has been a toxic landfill, hundreds of thousands of expense for new infrastructure, untold hours of staff time, and a well deserved repution for being a fool.
Thanks to documents released in response to a recent FOIA request, we now know even more. Two days before the permits expired, the developers requested a one-year extension until November 6, 2010. In response to the letter, the City asked for specific reasons for extending the PZD phasing deadlines and subsequent information regarding the timing of the release of the deeds required of the PZD conditions of approval. Since that time, the City has, on numerous occasions, deferred to the developers, property owners, bank representatives and/or attorneys representing the bank to allow additional time in order to negotiate the release of the deeds. It has become increasingly apparent that the lines of communication between the City and the development/ownership group have not been productive, as the City established four deadline commitments that have been extended or missed since these discussions began in November, 10 months ago.
On August 19, 2010, City Planning Director Jeremy Pate told the developers “that unless the deeds are delivered to the City of Fayetteville unencumbered, free and clear of any lien or mortgage and acceptable to the City of Fayetteville before Friday, August 27, at 12:00 pm local Fayetteville time, the request to extend the PZD approval for one year will be denied, to be effective on the same date and time.” That date has come and gone.
City Attorney Kit Williams got involved with a series of memos between John Nock and himself. It appears that the City is sitting on two sets of deeds -- one from the SouthPass developers and one from Chambers Bank pending a deed from SouthPass in lieu of foreclosure. Williams extended the deadline yet again until September 9, because he says Nock says he is trying to get other financing to save his project and cough up the additional $1 million required by the contract. If that doesn't happen, Williams says he will file the deeds from Chambers Bank, but the agreement between Williams and J. R. Meeks of Chambers Bank specifically exempting the bank from "assuming any obligations of SouthPass under any previous agreements and between the City and SouthPass." That is, the City should not count on the promised cost-share expenses and the $1 million it was supposed to get under the contract with SouthPass.
Maybe this will all be over next week, or maybe Williams will cut a new deal granting yet another extension to keep this albatross hanging around our necks for another six years. I think, as Kenny Rogers told me, you need to know when to fold'em and when to walk away. Let's cut our losses and be done with this whole mess.