consultants are sandburs

Thursday, March 28, 2013

RAMSEY - About the range of questions, apart from cost/benefit, surrounding the most recent apartment developer cabal's wanting subsidy money. Lack of any apparent will to subsidize, in neighboring Anoka.

This post relates to this earlier Crabgrass post. As updated there.

Cliche buzzwords are, "I am informed and believe ..." and then the factual statements follow.

So, I am informed and believe a proposal arose which, without any cost/benefit consideration done at this point, staff presented the council.

The consensus was that the council was not prepared to act, in terms of any city committment.

The generic question of subsidizing housing arose under the last council, and there presently is no consistent policy or set of guidelines in place [where cost/benefit belongs as a key determinant].

Some on council believe a policy of some general kind needs to be thought out before specific proposals accumulate, and before the present proposal is acted upon.

The person to be hired as the city's staff finance/TIF guru has yet to be hired. My guess is too extensive an indulgence into policy navel-gazing before that hire is made might forestall having input from the hiree, and be counterproductive, if anything contemplated before the hire is cast in stone.

(That's not informed by anyone on council or any city official, just believed - as common sense.)

Back to informed and believe; an offer [of non-public terms, conditions, and dimensions] was made to purchase HRA [i.e., distressed Town Center] land, but the council members, wearing their HRA hats, did not make any decision nor did they with council hats on.

It appears true, as the Gladhill write-up suggests, that the promoters' offer to buy a part of the distressed land involved a cherry picked el primo parcel, and an expectation of a half million dollar up-front governmental subsidy to move the land into the developers' tax shelter Crabgrassing hands.

That's informed via the Gladhill item, not by input that way, by anyone on council.

No purchase offer was accepted, i.e., there is no present executory purchase and sale agreement.

The mood and/or consensus feeling of the council, at present, appears to be a dislike of the use of TIF for any version or kind of developer housing-adventuring. (Looking to the future, not the past.) Which neither rules out nor favors other flavors of subsidy.

Recall that City of Ramsey played bank for Flaherty's adventure, and gave him free ramp parking spaces, and compromised SAC and WAC because, I presume, he asked for it by conditioning his offer and the council majority folks then in office, were cordial to his desires.

My hope would be Sakry of ABC Newspapers might explore in a news report the presently pending subsidy issue in Ramsey, given that the streaming video is online and people generally enjoy chatting with her because she's a good person. And there is a public interest dimension to the situation.

As of the date/time of writing this, a check of ABC Newspapers online did not reveal to me any such Sakry item, as yet posted. If I see any report I shall post a link.

HOWEVER - Checking ABC Newspapers online did inform me, and I believe, upscale non-rental single family detached homes on town land are planned in Anoka, per reporting under the headline, "Anoka moving ahead on high-end housing development on city land."

Interestingly this is not adjacent to any railroad's busiest freight lines, with two developers in a contest to move forward and nobody placed in a favored inside track posture; quite unlike Ramsey seeming hinged at the heels to give Flaherty city-provided risk capital and other perks. Indeed, the Mandy Froemming item shows Anoka town officials and project promoters perhaps over-eager to assure readers that patience is a virtue and that their bona fide good faith intent is to not compromise the public's fiscal status for any immediate private sector gain:

The city saw a second round of presentations from Landmark Development (Hanson Builders) as well as SW Wold Monday. Both developers are interested in building a new neighborhood on the northern border of the city.

Scott Wold retooled his original plans that included a mix of townhomes and single-family homes to just single-family. He had originally followed the current zoning on the property that calls for multiple family dwellings - changes would need to be made to the zoning for the development to only include single-family homes.

Wold also [...] was proposing to buy the land outright from the city.

“We believe in this site and we’re willing to put all of our money up front,” Wold said. “We don’t think the city should have to pay our way.”

On Monday Landmark provided a more detailed explanation of its financing proposal. [...]

While Landmark had asked the city to hold the land to help fund the project, the council is pushing for more traditional financing that would present less risk to the city.

“I’m not comfortable having the taxpayers on the hook if something goes wrong,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver.

[Landmark spokesman Nathan] Fair said Landmark co-owner Dean Hanson is willing to work in securing financing to buy the property outright.

[...] the council was careful to point out nothing was a done deal.

“I don’t think anybody is excluded from the project until the ink is signed,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver.

Anoka has been known for holding out on development in order to get what it really wants, said City Manager Tim Cruikshank, and there is still negotiating to do.

“I don’t think a deal has ever really driven this council to make a decision and I don’t think that will start now,” he said. “We can wait for the product that the council wants. We can wait forever.”

No favored dealings with a developer's right hand man posing as a town fiduciary there in Anoka, no sir. No promoter with his hand out, no sir. No rush to close, rather "we can wait forever."

Refreshing differences show that local governments can be the crucible of differing approaches, ways, and means. Citizens periodically can go to the polls and express a view of what approaches might be liked or disliked.

Isn't it wonderful? Now if only there were to be more referenda. Citizens having a veto.

Memory lane. Why am I reminded of the early millennium days of John Feges, and his, "The Developer will pay for everything"?

It was a falsehood, but it certainly sounded good.

It still does.

No comments: