There is talking the talk, and walking the walk. So far David Flaherty has talked the talk. But will he only walk the walk on his terms or none at all? The deal has been in flux around the edges, and now with risk multiplied to the tune of an $85 million new thing in Indiana, where Flaherty's from, and dwarfing even the firm's Orland Park public financed $63 million thing, we should notice Strib showing, indeed highlighting, "the talk"
Big Lake officials feel the down economy even helped them, because they were able to go slowly in forming a development strategy.
"If not for that, we wouldn't have had a plan in place by the time the train rolled out of our station in 2009," Larsen said.
By contrast, Ramsey's more aggressive approach -- seeking funding for projects years before being guaranteed a rail station -- did not pay off. The city between Elk River and Anoka was considered a sure bet for a station in 1997, when plans for the commuter line originated.
Then budget concerns cut the route in half and eliminated, at least temporarily, a station in Ramsey.
It was a tremendous blow to the $1.3 billion Ramsey Town Center project. Other troubles included mismanagement, a defaulted loan and a federal investigation that resulted in a fraud conviction and prison term for one Forest Lake banker.
The development area, renamed "COR of Ramsey," is starting to rebound with last year's additions of a Veterans Affairs clinic, the Falls Cafe and an Allina Health Clinic.
But the basis for the project has always been transit-oriented development, said City Administrator Kurt Ulrich, and Ramsey now is assured of funding for a $13.2 million Northstar station to open this fall.
Flaherty & Collins Properties will begin building another 230-unit complex in Ramsey in March, Flaherty said.
"There are only 100 of these commuter lines in the whole country," Flaherty said. "It's a great opportunity."
"Great opportunity," if not disingenuously said, has to be "great" even if you do not get your way at every turn in sweetening the deal, your way, each time. For instance, the City should keep a tight reversionary string tied to the parking spaces unless and until any and all city money at risk in the advenduring is fully paid off - with the right to repossess the parking rights in the expanded thing upon specific protective things written into the contract.
A parking right concession that is a 99 year easement, permit, license, call it whatever, that is alienable to some third party or that is appurtenant to the real estate in case the bank's first lien position gets foreclosed is not what's needed, and absent that not being the contract "detail in case of default," that the deal is written with the City having inadequate protective rights, then the deal is bad because the risk is bad.
There should, regarding the parking built to subsidize the entire thing, be real repossession/security teeth for Ramsey, should it ever need to bite.
Flaherty cannot object, since his intent is to make payments to Ramsey as and when due and such contingencies would only apply if he fails in that promise. If he keeps his payment promises then security is moot, and he's not said he intends to do less than perform all obligations. So securing Ramsey should not be any deal killer. If it is a deal killer, watch out, it might not be the deal it looked to be.
Otherwise city savants are gambling too much with too little assurances that Ramsey really is thought a special "great opportunity."
The city has built the extra ramp spaces. The city is going on the hook for a rail stop. Lkie only a hundred or so such situations nationwide. It's time to not be held over a barrel.
Reflecting back to that online psychology study, "The Nature of Belief-Directed Exploratory Choice in Human Decision-Making," one exploratory choice, if Flaherty's terms are too overreaching, involves the fact that his firm is not the only developer in the US of A, and if he flips the deal by overreaching, he or his bank, then there is the ready ramp and the rail stop, and the deal can be shopped to the development community. If it goes there, and there are no takers on reasonable terms, then that surely is a market defined proof the city officials did an unwise thing. But it would be retracing steps without any situation of a half built thing, and a "Now what?"