consultants are sandburs

Sunday, September 04, 2011


The last prior Crabgrass post on Ramsey, Flaherty-Collins, and the ramp-wrap-rental is here, (with one intervening post). I note there in the prior post the new sidebar questions, three in number, and encourage readers here and in the earlier post to participate by each giving his/her personal responses. The last prior Crabgrass post on Orland Park and its Flaherty-inspired ramp-rental project (and quality concerns) are here and here.

Now, the headline above really says it all.

Both sites have commuter rail stop involvement. I think the Orland Park Metra connection is not constrained by right-of-way negotiation to only be a rush-hour opportunity, as with Northstar's situation with BNSF owning the tracks. One would have to do due diligence by making Orland Park and Cook County Metra enquiries to pin that fact down - a Landform-Nelson responsibility in things, not my job.

But the numbers are on record. And the record is pretty clear. I think, 295 rental units, Orland Park; 275 rental units, Ramsey, with slightly more ground floor square footage for retail required in Orland Park. In Orland Park, a ramp structure within the Flaherty structure is planned. In Ramsey, free parking in the taxpayer owned, built, and paid for public ramp is to be given free to Flaherty, with his monster ugly thing set to snake around our ramp.

$63 million is the reported cost in Orland Park. $30 million reported here [see breakdown per Sakry-ABC Newspaper reporting, excerpted here].

Inescapable is a $33 million difference. So, we offer a $33 million ramp-related subsidy, plus building a Northstar stop, and that's with ramp expansion fully taxpayer subsidized, via a grant from tax money, AND Flaherty threatens to walk from the Ramsey thing unless the city adds bankrolling $8 million of Flaherty's risk?

That's gall bigger than the State of Indiana, in my view, so I wonder how Indiana is big enough to contain the gentleman.


An alternate and equally troubling obvious explanation of the cost gap is that FC anticipates a chance to extract more cash per square foot in Orland Park than in Ramsey, and accordingly will aim there for a higher building quality level.

Not that the ramp subsidy is anything other than a multi-million dollar giveaway perk from our spendthrift GOP council in Ramsey, but arguably it might be a giveaway valued at less than $33 million.

Say, instead, the giveaway of taxpayer ramp space to the private adventurers on close examination may be a $15-25 million bonus subsidy, given free to the Flaherty-Collins private-sector-for-profit adventurers in exchange for their putting a million ($1 million) of promoter risk capital into things. That could mean in this example that $18-8 million dollars of corner cutting is planned for us, to be snaked around our high-quality parking ramp.

Presumably our city staff is doing due diligence to determine why there is this obvious discrepancy.


What do we know: We know David Flaherty and associates know how to build flimsey, unrelaibe, and problem-fraught stuff - they have that track record - even though they say "Not so" as a distinction, when acting under their "apartment guys" banner.

We also know David Flaherty was driven from teen years with a passion for real estate and honed skills after leaving university ivy-covered halls - skills in the aspects of real estate law - becoming one of several featured mover-shakers in twenty-first century Indiana commercial real estate lore:

That passion allegedly ties to or has led to the FC firm's self-promotion of "building high-profile, upscale projects in North Carolina," this screenshot:

Read entire promotional item, here.

We know, "the 210 Trade" was envisioned as upscale, the problem being it never was built - instead being a "high-profile" showing of honed real estate legal skills sufficient to decide to boogie to bankruptcy, i.e., the going got tough and the Flaherty firm took a hike on the project. We know a bunch of little people, trusting little people, were reported to have collectively been taken big-time, for a $7 million ride:

Read entire story, here.

We do not know, or I do not, where the seven million dollars ended up. If not returned into the pockets of the trusting paying little people, did it find its way into a promotership or agency pocket?

That is something, following the money precisely and in detail, that I have not seen reported. Presumably city staff is doing due diligence regarding that situation to follow the money. Doing it as a due-diligence exercise in anticipation of down side possibilities if the Flaherty firm is given a multi-million dollar ramp parking giveaway along with a multi-million bankrolling of promoter risk with taxpayer money, (as McGlone, the mayor, and others on council have so far voted). This for the promoter with the track record of knowing how to find the bankruptcy court when hanging in there might have been expected by the condo-subscription people in North Carolina who collectively lost a multi-million bundle betting on Flaherty hype and/or promises.

We know the firm is accredited. Accredited even in receivership property management matters.

Whoopee. Accredited Apartment Guys. That and a dollar three eighty might buy a latte these days at Starbucks. Or reach toward the purchase, and would City of Ramsey fund the difference for me?

Bankroll me, council savants, please.

One thing I will give credit to the firm for, they did not scrub the 2007 promo item after the deal went south. That to me means something. Other firms have done website scrubbing of failed or embarrassing things. FC took their lumps on this one, kept the item online and did not scrub it, but where did the seven million go?

And, digressing a bit, my favorite website scrub, try finding this hummer on the Dorsey site these days:

The tail end of that Dorsey blast-from-the-past thing, saying Ramsey was in the 1970s a "large lot community" sure sounds nice. I believe it is what most families now residing in Ramsey sought in moving here, and I believe it is cause for those folks to want a referendum on what the "Bank of Ramsey" vs "City of Ramsey" is up to these days.

Such a referendum could focus on a judgment of Ramsey government getting into bankrolling rental housing on a massive scale hitherto unknown in the community, while still leaving room for the council to more modestly help along those shops and restaurants we "large lot" people want and were promised time and again. And again. And still.

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