Friday, May 16, 2014

How hard did they try?

This is an op-ed by David Garcia whose development firm was a partner in the Gatehouse project to renovate the WTC building. Garcia is obviously miffed at the city for ditching Gatehouse's proposal after having initially approved it via the RFP process so take that into consideration.

Still it's worth noting, he basically accuses the city of employing shakedown tactics and negotiating in bad faith before abandoning the project altogether. 
But when we jumped over the city's bar, the city moved the bar inexplicably higher. The city's final lease proposal required more than $100 million in present value, with more than $1.5 billion in projected lease payments during the 99-year term. Based on our team's experience with similar large, mixed-use developments and other 99-year leases across the country, we considered this lease demand to be unreasonable and un-financeable - killing the feasibility of our WTC project.

The city did not seem interested in discussing these realities. Our team was allowed to have only three brief meetings with city staff during our eight-month negotiation period - and we were never allowed to speak with the mayor, City Council, or any city economic development leaders to potentially assist. We were unsuccessful in our repeated attempts to increase communication, or broaden our discussions to include other third-party experts the city may trust. Negotiations imply two sides engaging fully, and that simply was not the case here.
And, hey, maybe the Gatehouse plan was bad from the get-go.  But it was the one the city picked, for whatever reason. 

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