Wednesday, July 18, 2007

City Council Press

Harrison Square's public share rises, but support intact

"Controller Pat Roller presented updated financial information on Harrison Square, showing the once-touted $130 million project will now be valued at roughly $120 million, thanks almost entirely to a $10 million decrease in private investment for the hotel. Of the $120 million, $64 million is expected to come from public coffers and $56 million will come from private developers. In April, the city projected private investment to be $3 million higher than public investment."

"The city also will have to spend about $800,000 in new costs to build a walkway from the hotel leading to the convention center. Deputy Mayor Mark Becker said the $1 million set aside by the city to help maintain Memorial Stadium on Coliseum Boulevard could instead be used to pay for the walkway now that it appears the older stadium will be demolished.”"

"Councilman Sam Talarico, R-at large, said the numbers were bound to change, but he said the changes in the deals are positive. The agreement between the city and Marriott developer says the development of the hotel is contingent upon the construction of the rest of Harrison Square. Talarico said this should quiet critics who argued the hotel shouldn’t be included as part of the project because it could be built without a ballpark.

He also said the numbers don’t include an estimated $500,000 in additional investment from Hardball Capital to increase the number of luxury suites from 12 to 16. With the increase, Hardball would provide $5.5 million toward the stadium."

City Council Discusses Harrison Square Funding

"Becker added the bridge would likely go across Harrison Street through the Indiana Hotel, and then cross over to the Grand Wayne Center. The city has 60 days to finalize that deal, but Becker said the Indiana Hotel and Embassy Theater are enthusiastic about the option."

"If the hotel doesn't make 16% profit, the city will pay the different to that profit point up to $250,000 a year.

"That surprises me and it's a very big disappointment for me," Councilman Don Schmidt said.


John B. Kalb said...

Brian - You missed the biggest item brought up last night - the fact that any management agreement, per state law, has to be bid out. Will Hardball agree to this - I'm betting NO WAY. So this whole downtown stadium may just go away - we hope! John B. Kalb

brian said...

John, you would hope.

If that was the biggest point brought up last night why isn't it covered by the "mainstream media?"

Doesn't Hardball Capital have territorial rights to manage their own franchise?

Scott said...

2.9. Competitive Bidding. When required by state or local law, all contracts for repairs, capital improvements, goods and services for which the City is obligated to pay will be awarded on the basis of competitive bidding conducted in accordance with applicable legal

Note: This does not mean who is responsible for the day to day operations of the stadium since Hardball has that responsibility.

John B. Kalb said...

Guys - See the media reports on Thursday -you will get the picture then. John B. Kalb

Joe said...

John, all of your bets so far have turned out to be wrong, so I'm betting that this is something that can be resolved without a problem. You really think Hardball is going to back out of this, when you constantly whine how much money they are making out of this deal??

Rachel said...


We all know you don't want to see "boondoggle stadium". But I've never really heard what you do want to see downtown. What should the city be doing to revitalize this lackluster location?

scott s. said...

Maybe this will help, Rachel

Rachel said...

Thanks, Scott.

Ah, the ubiquitous and ever elusive high-paying manufacturing jobs. If only FW could make more widgets, we'd all be doing better.

I bet John might like China. Lots of manufacturing jobs to go around and no downtown baseball stadiums.

John B. Kalb said...

Rachel - Dan Carmody yesterday posted about a company he is working with that wants, among other things, to build a manufacturing plant in our downtown - Is that a bad thing? It would be jobs that would last all year instead of just 3 or 4 months for 35 ballgames - and the jobs probably will pay 10 times what selling popcorn, peanuts, beer, etc. at a 3 hour ballgame! Sure looks like a better deal to me. What a waste of energy spent on something so worthless as an unneeded stadium. John B. Kalb

Rachel said...


Generally downtown areas of any city have not been a hub of manufacturing, past or present. Note where GM, GE and IH are located.

I think trying to focus manufacturing in downtown is a waste of valuable real estate.

Guitar manufacturing is more of a boutique product, not the heavy industry that employed tens of thousands in this city decades ago.

My hometown had a small shop on the second story of the downtown square that made harpsicords. Production yes, but not heavy industry.

A real boondoggle would be an abandoned heavy manufacturing plant downtown.

And I would still be interested in hearing your plan of what exactly to do with downtown FW, and more specifically the parking that will be Harrison Square.

John B. Kalb said...

Rachel - The fact is that no city in the US of A will ever again see the large factories you made reference to - I have been in industrial sales for 39 years (as of July 5th this month) - I have seen Northeasr Indiana go from a small grouping of very large manufacturing plants to a much larger number of small factories, all producing about the same level of products that we did 35 years ago - but not coming from just a few plants. This has been good for our area, in the long run -I admit that some workers were displaced - some are not earning what they did in the past - but it is largely because they did not(or could not) adapt to thenecessary chages due to the opening of world markets that has occured.
If downtown is the valuable real estate as you describe it, just why do you feel it is valued? A new baseball stadium is one of the absolute dumdest things you could build on this land! It's more valuable to Fort Wayne as parking lots - at least the parking paid will remain in our town. I believe all thats planned for Harrison Square is good - EXCEPT the unnecessary baseball stadium. The ONLY reason for the baseball park being included is because our city government, for some undisclosed reason, "single-sourced" the development! They chose only to contact Hardball Capital - or in truth I fell that Hardball Capital was formed for this singular purpose(at least in regards to Fort Wayne). I hope this makes my position(and the shared position of very many of our neighbors) clearer for you and others. John B. Kalb

Richard said...

you humor me John

Scott said...

Could you explain what you mean by this?

"The ONLY reason for the baseball park being included is because our city government, for some undisclosed reason, "single-sourced" the development! They chose only to contact Hardball Capital - or in truth I fell that Hardball Capital was formed for this singular purpose(at least in regards to Fort Wayne)."

Why would the city talk to another group about the ballpark, when the Wizards are owned by Hardball? Also, Hardball was already in existence since they own another baseball team. They just happened to buy the Wizards. I think your assertion that Hardball was formed out of some conspiracy theory illustrates how ridiculous your arguments are becoming. It seems to me that you are being driven by an uncontrollable rage, instead of logic. Your mind is clouded by your rage, therefore you are unable to see both sides of the project and make an objective critic of what is going on.

Rachel said...


I'm still not exactly sure what you want to see there. You want retail and dining (and parking), but what will anchor your envisioned project?

Joe said...

He doesn't have a plan, he just likes knocking other plans.

John B. Kalb said...

Scott - I would guess that you got into this boondoggle recently, because the Wizards was the reason that Hardball Capital was formed - they bought the other team later - Refer to their web site fot the official info.
And my reference to "another bidder" was for all except the unnecessary baseball stadium.
Our city administration has told us what we want - and don't give me this crap about "citizen input" - Two members of the Baseball Plus Study group have told me that the group NEVER TOOK A SINGLE VOTE ON ANYTHING!!!!! At least not when they were in attendance - maybe another "secret dealing" as seems to be Mayor Richard's way of pursuing "Lean Government".

And to Rachel - How about a World-Class public library - open almost every day of the year from 10 AM until 9 PM - The 60% tax supported Grand Wayne Center - the Embassy - The Botanical Gardens - great places to work- I agree we could use a few more evening things to do downtown- but why force it? - you force it and the odds of success drop to what we have experienced in our town. We have been blessed with a person like Dan Carmody who is just loaded with really great ideas for our downtown - Why don't we get off this boondoggle and get to something worthwhile for our city!
John B. Kalb

Scott said...

Isn't it interesting John that Dan Carmody is for a project that you don't support but is still worthy of your praise. I think it is rather interesting that would might support anything that he wants to do. But I seriously doubt you would support anything at all.

John B. Kalb said...

Joe - Have you personaly hear Dan C. speak on his visions (NOT DREAMS) for downtown Fort Wayne? I have and I an impressed - I have stated this in the past(check with Scott Spalding). Dan inherited the boondoggle stadium - he did not initiate it - it came from numbskulls - and HE IS NOT ONE OF THESE. Joe, do you always agree with EVERYTHING that your friends are for? You must be a very dull person to be a friend! I find that I agree to disagree with all of my friends on some items - that's human nature - or are you from some other planet? John B. Kalb

brian said...


"the Wizards was the reason that Hardball Capital was formed"

Hardball Capital has also been pursuing MLS and WNBA teams in Atlanta for a while now- hardly a conspiracy related to the Wizards.

"They chose only to contact Hardball Capital"

I understand Hardball Capital came to the city and not vice versa.

"3 or 4 months for 35 ballgames"

You should hope your legal studies are better researched than this. The Wizards season lasts six months not three (April through September) and the season lasts home 70 games. And yes, the sport is seasonal, we don't play baseball in the winter in the Midwest.

"and the jobs probably will pay 10 times what selling popcorn, peanuts, beer, etc..."

If these are the jobs that you think the development was intended to attract, then you are further off base than I originally thought.

Of course part-time vendors are not the focus of the job gain/retention hopes of the development.

"What a waste of energy spent on something so worthless.."

No offense, but I don't think anyone has wasted more energy than you have.

"It's more valuable to Fort Wayne as parking lots"

That is a sad comment coming from someone involved in the Indiana Future Cities competitions.

If (as you believe) Hardball Capital is planning on packing up and running away with their profits in a few years.... wouldn't the "boondoggle stadium" have to be successful in order for them to make a substantial return on their investment? Success would of course be impossible in your "boondoggle stadium."

Why do you believe that Hardball Capital would inevitably walk away from the deal if they weren't able to manage the operations of the facility? That makes no sense. Even if RFP's were required (which I don't believe are necessary), you don't think Hardball Capital would bid? What other company would be better at managing the ballpark operations than the firm that helped envision the project, take part in the deal from day one, and invest nearly 20% in the construction costs of the facility? (Which by the way, I do not believe Liberty Healthcare had such a stake in the State Developmental Center as in Stuller v. Daniels.... but I'm no lawyer.)
I understand that the bidding process would be to not only ensure quality management, but low costs. I believe that Hardball would make a more than competitive bid, but then again, I highly doubt that will be necessary.

Downtown is gaining momentum as we speak. 816 is expanding their hours, JK O'Donnells is opening soon, a historic building is being renovated into living space on Broadway, there is increased interest in the Columbia St Landing properties, every unit at Midtowne Crossing has been sold and (as you are aware) Babicz guitars is moving downtown...

Not only are the Harrison Square suites full (two years from opening), but the demand has been so high that Hardball is spending another $500,000.00 of private money to build more. That is hardly something to complain about. However, if the news would've been that the suites are a tough sell, you would've been first to complain.

There is a list of roughly 50 businesses that have shown an interest in naming rights. Part of the naming rights revenues are expected to return to the city. "The city receives 50 percent of naming-rights revenue up to $300,000, and then all additional money beyond that amount." I, for one, hope that the naming rights work out well so that the city can recoup part of the initial investment.

Would you have believed a few weeks ago that the demand for suites was this high and roughly 50 companies have expressed an interest in investing in a "boondoggle?"

I don't want to come across as simply being argumentative. Our site was never created with that intention. I welcome your comments and would like to ask the following two questions, "What is your honest opinion on the best-case scenario for the Harrison Square project? In your honest opinion, what is the worst-case scenario for the Harrison Square project?"

I believe our differences lie within our levels of optimism and pessimism for the future of this project as well as differing opinions of what cities can do to attract new generations of creative, skilled workers.

Dan Carmody said...

John K

I fully support your agree to disagree manifesto.

You are right to question the public investment in HS but namecalling those who have worked on this project weakens your argument.

From my research, cities that have been able to reach better deals for either convention center hotels and/or ball parks started with better market fundamentals or were in more advanced stages of their revitalization cycles.

Denver which has a successful downtown used a regional sales tax to build new baseball and football stadiums which proved to profound stimuli for their nearby neighborhoods still had to fund its new convention center hotel with 100% public financing because of market conditions following 911.

The biggest boondogle of our time and maybe of all times has been the ransacking of American cities over the past fifty years as we systematically demolished the perfectly good core areas of our cities.

It wasn't done by numbskulls it was done by all of us who were fortunate enough to be born into an era of unequaled prosperity and a seemingly endless supply of low cost energy.

Only a numbskull, however, would believe those conditions will continue.

Our grandparents left us a dense place, a place with great diversity of transportation, and a place with a viable economy.

Unless we work quickly we will leave our grandchildren a more dispersed place with much higher operating costs and a place which will be increasingly difficult to sustain as energy prices escalate.

HS is a chance for Fort Wayne to relearn how build with density and with a mix of uses.

Some may think that urban forms in places like Fort Wayne is as obsolete as our manufacturing base.

I tend to think history is more cyclical. What's old becomes new again. (I tend to agree with you that manufacturing is important and making things will come back into vogue.)

John I agree with you that HS is a big risk for the citizens of FW.

There is no risk in building Fort Wayne in the years to come as we have since WWII, that will almost certainly lead to our failure as we run out of time to adjust to higher energy costs.

John I love your passion and the fact that you have stayed as a resident in the heart of the city while so many have fled.

We agree on many things but I am afraid we have to agree to disagree on HS.

John B. Kalb said...

Brian - 1) I did divid by 2 one more time than necessary - I know that the home schedule is 70 games - my goof.
2) 20% investment by Hardball in stadium - How do you get that? $30 million plus $0.5 million for the extra suites = $30.5 million. Public share is $25 million plus whatever the $4 million CREeD tax credits sell for (let's say $3.2 million), so that totals to $28.2 million. 30.5 less 28.2 = $2.3 million. 2.3/30.5 = 13 % Not close to 20%. Plus the fact that Hardball can make any or all of their $5 million as "in-kind" contrubutions -maybe the value of the wooden bats that hardball gets from the major league team for free will be part of this "contribution" Or how about the popcorn popping machines that Hardball's concessioneer will be using to earn Hardball's profit on the popcorn - maybe we should establish a corporation called Fort Wayne Capital

As to your question about my honest opinion on the best case scenario for Harrison Square -
Harrison Square would blossom as a mixed-use urban development with condos, modern style appartments and assisted-living facillities(for some of us older folk - when it's necessary that our children take away our car keys), shopping to support those living downtown, the convienient location of public transportation in the area, open-space safety so that people need not fear for their lives when outdoors, the walk-to churches which we still have in our downtown, plus the ability to use the walk-to entertainment, recreation, and lifetime learning facilities that exist in the H.S. suroundings. We don't need a PLAY PEN for our young adults!

As to a worst case -- The stadium is built anong with the hotel and phase 1 of the condo's/retail. It is reasonably sucessful in retaining the present fan base for the Wizards, but cannot turn a profit for Hardball and they back out. This leaves us with a bankrupt Indiana corporation completely financialy divorced from the Hardball Capital shell in Atlanta, and our city again gets left with the bag, only now with no locally headquartered(read Lincoln Life) corporation to bail us out. Oh, and another failed 250 room hotel! The last one out WILL turn out the lights!

John B. Kalb

Jeff Pruitt said...

"The biggest boondogle of our time and maybe of all times has been the ransacking of American cities over the past fifty years as we systematically demolished the perfectly good core areas of our cities.

It wasn't done by numbskulls it was done by all of us who were fortunate enough to be born into an era of unequaled prosperity and a seemingly endless supply of low cost energy."

Who is the "we" you're referring to here? The urban core of most cities were disregarded by city planners, zoning boards and politicians as they focused on expansion - their manifest desitiny if you will.

In many cases these neighborhoods also became the way they are because local law enforcement turned a blind eye. I don't deny that a city is typically stronger when it has a thriving urban core but at what cost?

I find it rather sad commentary that people believe the future our city depends upon the success of a heavily subsidized Courtyard by Marriott...

tim said...

Thank you, Dan Carmody for stating the obvious so eloquently. You are the expert and an asset for our community. Unfortunately, Mr. Kalb and a few others think THEY are the experts and know what the community wants. It's obvious the majority are behind the HS project. If not, there would have been many more come and speak against the project at the public hearings. Let's face it, Mr. Kalb will continue to cast his dark pall over HS and we'll not do anything to change his thinking on this. His mind is made up. If we say it's white, he'll say it's black. Maybe he's secretly hoping Wolf and Dessauer will re-open downtown and that will be downtown Fort Wayne's salvation!

Joe said...

John, last time I checked I'm from this planet :) ... I disagree with my friends all the time...but I will continue to disagree with you about Harrison Square being a "dream" is very real!