Thursday, May 3, 2007

Proof And Assurance

Developers must disclose details
Harrison Square project can withstand scrutiny

From the article:

"City Council’s 6-3 vote last month in favor of Harrison Square is widely believed to have cleared the way for the $125 million-$160 million downtown improvement project. But that’s not quite true. Before construction of the $30 million baseball stadium begins – planned for Sept. 1 at the latest – the city’s Atlanta-based private partners must demonstrate they can make good on their multimillion-dollar commitment."

"Councilman Tim Pape, who voted for Harrison Square, said he is convinced taxpayers’ interests are protected despite the lack of a detailed financial statement from Hardball and Barry Real Estate. The developers’ past business performance, he said, indicates they will be forthright and successful partners here, too."

"Consultant Steve Brody said council’s approval simply allows the city to negotiate a more-detailed agreement with the developers “that makes economic sense for Fort Wayne.”"

"If construction does begin, as expected, the city will get Hardball’s $5 million upfront. And even if Hardball would go bankrupt later, a baseball team should remain in Fort Wayne."

"The memorandum is less reassuring in regard to Barry Real Estate’s condominiums and commercial buildings, however. Because they are to be privately funded, the city has less control over their development. But because Harrison Square supporters used Barry’s investment to justify public funding of the stadium, the city must make sure the promised shops and condos are built."

"“Normally, you wait to see what your obligations will be (in the final agreement) before you demonstrate you can fulfill those obligations,” Freier said. The amount of money Hardball and Barry Real Estate can bring to the table far exceeds what was stated on the personal-wealth statements that council received, he added."