With the privately owned waterfront hotel and condominiums and the publicly owned Water Garden Pavilion and Baggage Building taking up most of the conversation, two lot leases seems to have fallen between the cracks. Nobody is speaking about them at all yet they include one of the more important buildings of the waterfront development. The Market Building.
Originally a public building, the land (#3 on Schedule A below) was leased to the developer to allow construction of a Market Building.
According to the Commercial Lot Lease Agreement that was signed by the city and the developer, regarding Lease Lot Lands #3 on Schedule A, “the Developer does not commence the Business within two (2) years of the Commercial Lot Agreement Commencement Date.” The Commencement Date is the “same date the Developer takes title to the Developers Lands. (as defined in the Development Agreement)”
OK. What does that mean? I am not really sure. My understanding is that once the development is deemed relatively complete, the Developer has two years to construct a building and open a business. What kind of business? Retail and Commercial.
Is there any requirement that the Developer do ANYTHING? Ever? No. After two (2) years, if nothing is built, then the Developer defaults and the agreement is voided. Is there any financial penalty for not opening a business after two (2) years? No. Maybe there is but I do not see anything.
So, the way I see it, the Developer can wait to see if the completed public portion of the waterfront project is a success. Thousands of people wandering the around the waterfront on a daily basis. If the crowds do not materialize, then no investment on the Developer’s part is required. The Developer can simply default and walk away.
The lack of a required commitment on the part of the Developer is troubling because of the revisions made to the original plan. Originally, the Market Building was going to be a publicly owned structure selling works by local artisans. The plan was changed to move the public artisan market to the baggage building as an addition, allowing the Developer to lease the land next to Market Square.
As you can see, the Market building is central to the Market Square area as is the optional third lot (Option Land #4 on Schedule A) that the Developer has acquired. It is also shown on the “After” drawing as “open lawn” next to the Waterfront Plaza. The Waterfront Plaza’s size was reduced by at least 50% to accommodate this optional lot for possible lease. Public facility reduced in size to accommodate the private developer…..maybe. If the Developer decides to exercise the option.
Both these lots that have been made available to the Developer are located in the heart of the development. Can there be a successful waterfront development without building on these two lots? Is the Market Building really an optional feature? If so, why is its construction not a requirement for construction of a hotel/condos? Will the City have to construct it if the developer does not?
Has anyone asked these questions?