Sunday, July 06, 2014

Health Foundation Contract Requires Downtown Master Developer

San Angelo's City Council approved the purchase of the Edgewater Inn property in August 2010.  The proposed contract with the San Angelo Health Foundation was included in the City Council background packet. 

Seven people in the room knew of this requirement in the last city council meeting when they considered engaging Catalyst Urban Development for Phase II of Downtown Master Development.  None said anything about the contractual obligation of the city to employ a Downtown Master Developer for the five year contract period.

4.4  Master Developer. City shall continuously through the term of this agreement employ the services of a master developer who will be responsible for the planned development of the Downtown Redevelopment Zone, including the property.  The Master Developer shall report to the Downtown Redevelopment Commission (since renamed Downtown Development Commission) and his/her responsibilities shall include, but not be limited to, land development issues, environmental issues and marketing of the property to private investors or developers. (page 225 of the 8-17-14 City Council background packet)

Mayor Dwain Morrison, Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer, Councilman Johnny Silvas, Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Michael Dane, City Attorney Lysia Bowling, City Clerk Alicia Ramirez and newly elected City Councilwoman Elizabeth Grindstaff all played a role in executing the Health Foundation agreement.

San Angelo Live implied time was running out and the Health Foundation might have to purchase riverfront property back from the city in 2015.  That's not based on the contract's terms which have the effective date commencing upon the hiring of a Downtown Master Developer. 

That means the contract started in late 2012-early 2013, depending on when the Catalyst Urban agreement was officially executed and signed.  The earliest it might expire would be late 2017.

I'll venture this is news to most people who attended or watched the July 1 City Council meeting or prior meetings on engaging a Downtown Master Developer.  This foundational information should've been shared somewhere along the line.

The City's Finance Department received a Gold Level Transparency Award.  It looks rather hollow at the moment, given Dane presented the Health Foundation contract and its requirements to Council in 2010.   Councilwoman Grindstaff cryptically referred to the truth last week, but all were silent on the contract and its requirement that the city employ a Downtown Master Developer for the full five year period.  We have nearly three and a half years to go and I expect Catalyst to be there for the duration.

Postscript:  This story took digging and the findings seemed worth sharing.  My thanks to Jim Turner who provided the 8-17-10 background packet.  It's nice that San Angelo's institutional memory exists somewhere.  The City's website was once a treasure trove of documents.  Maybe it will return to that form, but I have doubts given the city's recent desire not to share documents with the public.  I posted two of those recently, strategic planning documents from the City Council session at Fort Chadbourne and the 2006 Reclaimed Water Feasibility Study.

Update 5-6-17:  City Council's May 2nd agenda for Executive closed session included "Property located on river frontage."  Is it the Edgewater property? 

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