The Article has one misstatement, the provision is not that the Village loan them money to purchase the property, the provision was a loan towards the completion of their project. They want to purchase the property from the Village for $1.00. One can only assume that the LLC must have thought that they didn’t have community support for the first paragraph of the Executive Summary outlined in their plan which was the assumption that the village would give them the funds allocated for demolition in the form of an interest free loan. That being said, there are a number of important questions that remain which are not limited to the following.
1. Another Key assumption of the LLC is the establishment of Main Street as a National Historic District through an application process to the Federal Government. How long does the process take to establish Main Street as National Historic District? If this process takes an extended time period, could the building be in jeopardy of actually falling in on itself (or a passerby) and exposing the Village to further liability? What if this process gets bogged down with bureaucracy and/or ultimately gets denied?
2. What is GCEDC’s position on the lending of funds for this project? One would think that such a successful entity would be cautious based on the number of assumptions outlined in the plan, namely the assumption that occupancy levels would be sufficient to meet financial obligations (the build it and they will come theory).
3. Assuming that the project was completed, what if the venture fails to attract occupants and the LLC. can not meet financial obligations? What lender would be in first place on the defaulting loans? Is there a risk that the building would sit idle, owned by a lender who has no interest in the upkeep of the property thus recycling the current situation, after all, this is a LIMITED LIABILITY Corporation proposal?
4. Since the LLC. has withdrawn the provision of a loan from the Village, where does the Village now stand on tax abatement? Does the Village support a plan where a limited number of investors benefit from the proposed tax breaks in an economy in which taxes are spiraling out of control? Is the Village expecting a significant number of jobs created from this project after completion to add to the local economy/tax base that would come close to giving the Village any benefit from tax breaks extended to the LLC.? What if occupants in the building are directly competing with other building owners/businesses that are paying taxes? Does this create an unfair advantage based on decreased rents created by tax breaks? Has the LLC. considered that they may attract business occupants that are currently open in other buildings on Main Street who would be willing to vacate spaces they currently rent or lease from other tax paying building owners thus leaving more empty spaces on Main Street and risking more buildings becoming defunct?
Before attending Mr. Hauser’s presentation I was very skeptical of the proposal to rehab the Wiss. However, I found his presentation, his accomplishments in Perry and his model for community investment into rehabilitation of old buildings very intriguing and inspiring. I also admire the principle parties involved in this effort for their community spirit and dedication to a belief in such a community based effort. I still do not believe that the Wiss is a suitable candidate for this project. There are a number of reasons associated with my opinion. I do not find the building to be remotely aesthetically pleasing and I don’t see away to make it so and I have talked with many people that hold the same opinion. Parking is a problem, I realize that there are a number of municipal parking lots to provide for occupants and patrons of the building but I would think that any prospective occupant would definitely need to consider parking as an issue when deciding whether to rent. During Mr. Hauser’s presentation regarding the apartments his position was [trust me] they will rent (the build it and they will come theory). I think that the assumption that $800 - $1300 apartments with little to no on site parking and no common outdoor space would rent is a rather large assumption. There are for rent signs all over the village and most of them look to have ample parking for more than one vehicle per tenant whether it is curbside or on property. The rental to owner occupied ratio in the village looks to be one of the highest in the State at about 43% compared to the State average of around 36% with around only 7% renting for over $600/mo (I surfed several websites so the numbers provided are subject to scrutiny but look to be somewhat reliable). I believe that the Village needs to “bite the bullet” and raze the building and try and recover the loss through the sale of the vacant lot. By the way, I fold my left thumb over my right. Just my opinion……