Friends of Fullerton’s future have read many pages on this site dedicated to cataloguing the manifest failures of Redevelopment and all the attendant boondoggles it brings with it. Blind support for these disasters is one of the reasons The Three Blind Brontosauruses are being recalled. One of the biggest disasters-in-the-making is the lamentable “Amerige Court” project, another gigantic monster to be plopped down into Fullerton, and a totally staff-created and driven mess.
Naturally Bankhead and Jones have supported this gross example of corporate welfare that we end up paying for. McKinley is bound to go along for the ride. When he does we’ll be sure to let you know about it. Here is an update.
By Judith Kaluzny as published in The Fullerton Observer
The Amerige Court proposal is not dead yet. The council will vote December 5, 2011, whether to extend a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) first approved February 7, 2006, the third amended version having been approved by council March 4, 2008.
Since then, two extensions requested by developer Pelican Laing /Fullerton LLC (a Delaware corporation) were granted by staff June 2010 by Rob Zur Schmiede, executive director of the Redevelopment Agency (RDA), and April 1, 2011, by Joeseph Felz, acting executive director.
Meantime, the Laing portion of the Pelican-Laing developers, had been purchased in June 2006 by a company in the mideast country of Dubai, and Laing subsequently filed for bankruptcy in February 2009.
“Amerige Court,” described as “mixed-use development with up to 124 residential units and as much as 30,000 square feet of commercial area” was to be located on the north and south parking lots in the 100 block of West Amerige. At one time, the project was to be nine stories high on the south side of Amerige, with a five story parking structure on the north side of the street.
A Draft Environmental Impact Report was prepared in 2008 and concluded that there were “no potentially significant impacts that cannot be mitigated.”
Richard Hamm of Pelican Properties said recently, “It has been impossible to make any progress with the project since the State has attempted to end redevelopment. Of course, the economy has not helped.
“We have four companies waiting in the wings to join us in Amerige Court. We want to get the extension to the DDA as well as a few details worked out with Redevelopment before going forward with a new partner. Amerige Court is still a great opportunity. Downtown Fullerton is still a great place (despite the recent events).
Points in the original contract included:
-Giving $5.5 million from a $6 million bond issue to Pelican Properties to build the parking garage. The bonds were to be paid back by the residents and businesses in the new development. That will cause the businesses to cost $1.93 per square foot more than any other retail space downtown according to the city’s consultant, Keyser Marsten Associates, which advised the city to do “more due diligence” before they entered into this contract.
-The land Pelican will be given the by the city was not appraised, but agreed as being worth $8 to $8.5 million.
-A guarantee of 10% profit to Pelican on the project. Pelican can submit a new budget before escrow closes. If that does not show they will get a 10% profit, they can withdraw from the project. However, at that point, the redevelopment agency can volunteer to pay the required profit to Pelican. The Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency can do this without further input from the city council/redevelopment agency.
-Tearing down the historic properties on the southeast corner of Malden and Amerige Avenues.
[The DDA and amendments are a maze of turgid language: The Third Amendment provides for a “future amendment,” but if “a Future Amendment is not approved by Developer and the Agency Board (city council) by April 5, 2009, or such later date as may be approved by the parties in the sole and absolute discretion of each of them, either party shall have the right to terminate the DDA... .”
[The third amended DDA also includes the following language: “However, the Entitlements have not been approved as Agency has not approved the Project or any other project for the Property. The parties acknowledge that this Third Amendment does not constitute the third amendment that was contemplated under the Second Amendment.”]
Begun in 2001 with a “rendering” commissioned by Paul Dudley, then Director of Development, and shown to city council members in closed session, it has been said that this was a scheme to get more parking for the bars/restaurants downtown. (In December 2002, restaurants downtown were exempted from having to provide parking or to obtain conditional use permits.)
FFFF has argued for years that this grossly subsidized monstrosity should be killed outright. As I noted, above, the extension of this agreement will become another issue in the upcoming recall campaign: a perfect example of corporate welfare of the type that has characterized massive subsidized apartment blocks in downtown Fullerton already approved by Bankhead and Jones over the years.