consultants are sandburs

Friday, October 26, 2012

The genesis of Town Center woe. The unlikelihood of Bruce Nedegaard being able to carry it off was hidden under a hat, James Norman only disclosing it after he had resigned as city administrator.

Strangely the item is missing from ABC Newspaper archives, but in an earlier Crabgrass post, from the summer of 2007, I published a quote -- Sakry having written:

[...]

While some may criticize the city for not checking out Nedegaard’s financial situation, there was nothing the city could do, according to former Ramsey City Administrator Jim Norman.

Nedegaard assembled the land and owned it. The city didn’t have a choice in selecting a developer, Norman said.

“We wanted to do the project and he owned the land,” he said.

The city’s options were to condemn the land or go ahead with Nedegaard with a letter of credit to protect the city, said Norman.

Although the city consultants did a study before the project started that indicated Nedegaard may not survive financially, it is not unusual for projects to have two to three owners before completion, he said.

The first indication the city received that Nedegaard was in financial straits was when contractors started putting liens on RTC property in fall 2006.

[...]

“The town center is more than bricks and mortar, it’s about the vision. And it’s important to maintain the vision,” said Trudgeon.

When the urban center idea came in up in a comprehensive plan meeting with planning consultants in 1998, the council rejected it, said Norman.

The idea of a transit-oriented, mixed-use development resurfaced later in the year and was seen in better light by the council fighting for a Northstar Commuter Rail station site, which it later lost to Anoka in 2000.

The idea, with the vision of delivering walkability, transit oriented connections, mixed use, amenities and services to residents, also caught on with residents.

Sixty-one percent of Ramsey residents voted yes in a non-binding 2001 referendum on whether residents supported the Ramsey Town Center project.

Ramsey residents formed Citizens for Ramsey Town Center Design and collected 1,600 signatures to support the town center in 2001.

Everyone is disappointed by RTC’s status, said Trudgeon.

“Everyone embraced the vision expecting there would be more there,” he said.

“We had expected it to be further along.”

Although he gets a lot of questions about when RTC is coming, Trudgeon said he hasn’t heard anything about abandoning the plan.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com


The land profiteers back then were super-eager to cash out, and Nedegaard had loan proceeds sufficient to satisfy that greed, so the deed was done. It was kind of a Town Center version of original sin.

More, from around the summer of 2007, while Patrick Trudgeon was still head of planning.

“One of the absolutes is the vision has to be maintained,” said Trudgeon.

The property being auctioned is zoned for the town center and for certain uses and that will still stand, he said.

“Even if the development agreement falls away, which we think is very, very unlikely, we still have zoning protection and we expect a certain level of development and any change would have to make sense,” said Trudgeon.

According to city officials, any changes made to the plan would have to be a benefit for the community and overall development

“The city and the council wants to see this succeed,” said Trudgeon.

“It’s about accomplishing the vision and assuring those components are preserved,” said Nelson.

But one RTC developer thinks the master development agreement is hurting the project.

“It simply priced the land out of the market. That really took the project out,” said Jim Deal, who owns 26 acres of property in RTC.

As for the future, “not a lot can be accomplished until the lawsuit between the city and the bank is settled,” he said.

Although he has made the bank numerous offers for the property, Deal said his offers were rejected because they did not cover the $35 million mortgage and the liens on the property.

At least four creditors have filed mechanic’s liens against RTC for approximately $6.5 million.

Some of Deal’s property will be the future home of the Anoka County Medical Examiner’s office and a 152-unit multi-story senior housing and assisted living complex by Crest View Senior Communities.

Deal also built office buildings in RTC.

His future projects could include retail, hotel, community center and fitness center projects, said Deal.

While he still believes in RTC, “it’s a tough sell out here right now,” he said.

Deal said the project could get done in 20 years, 10 years if it went really well.

It seems there is good sense behind the old saying, "Haste makes waste."

__________UPDATE________
More history, the first public appearance of Bob Ramsey, per a comment post?


More history, 2005, a meeting, a restrictive covenant, property controlled by a bank? There was always something of an enigma, unless you were a watch-every-broadcast junkie. I was not:


______________FURTHER UPDATE____________
This link, one of the items in the ABC Newspaper archive listing, in the below post, "The Residence project received Ramsey Council, HRA approval," Posted on December 28, 2010; by Tammy Sakry.

This mid-item excerpt, because we all see the thing now as it's being glommed onto the ramp, bigger than the ramp, right up to the sidewalk, it being of the wooden neo-Stalinesque school of design:

“This is a tremendous project for the area,” said Councilmember Matt Look when the council approved the final plat and final site plan.

It sets the bar architecturally in The COR and will provide local jobs, he said.

Low bar, ya betcha.

And "provide local jobs," Matt Look opines.

Well, sure. Go ask Colin or Emily McGlone.

Now, you tell me; are the laborers/carpenters/crane operators on site local union folks? Those kinds of local jobs?

What? My understanding is the general contractor is Flaherty's construction arm; out of Indiana. Readers, correct me if this is incorrect.

---------Oh, that's just Crabgrass crabbing, right? Not exactly, with that post having one comment, it being:

Amy says:
December 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

In a city with rampant foreclosures, escalating property taxes, and a failed Town Center, WHY is this a good idea right now?

Exactly how many jobs will this create Mr. Look? Construction jobs for a year and then what? I DO NOT appreciate my property taxes going up and up and up every year while my property value has plummeted from $249,000 to $185,000 a year to subsidize capitalist projects.

If Flaherty & Collins is a business making a business venture, then they should be able to do it WITHOUT using MY money!

Shame on you, Ramsey City Council.

Amy should be on council. On the HRA. (Both, since that's current style.)

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