Friday, March 02, 2007

Adam Welch

Adam Welch posted the below comment under my post entitled "Harrison Square Financing, part 2" I put his comment in italics. He posted his comment in regards to my discussion with Pat Roller and Greg Leatherman yesterday.

I spent an hour and a half talking to them about Harrison Square. Adam apparently thinks that I can convey EVERYTHING that was said in that conversation in one blog post... It is IMPOSSIBLE...

I will however try to better express my interpretation of Greg Leatherman's explanation of why the proposal was dropped from 300 rooms to 250 rooms.

Before reading this post please consider the following facts (Adam you especially should consider the below facts!):

1. EVERY official City communication I have EVER read regarding Harrison Square says that for the financing package to "work" the hotel must have 300 or more rooms.
2. The official Request for Proposal REQUIRES the hotel to have 300 rooms in THREE separate places. In fact the RFP states that any number less then 300 will cause the bid to be unacceptable.
3. I attended a Northwest area Partnership meeting in late February. At this meeting I was handed a flyer advertising a 300 room hotel...
4. On January 17th the RFP was modified to allow for fewer then 300 rooms... No reason was given...

EVERY step of this process Fort Wayne has said that the "Hotel must have 300 or more rooms to generate enough revenue to pay the costs of the project."

Here it goes, Adam is in italics and my comments below are in red...

Wow, where do I begin? I usually stay away from posting a lot on blogs, but after reading Mr. Sylvester’s summary of his meeting with the city I had to respond.
You are always free to respond Adam. This is a blog where I encourage discussion of issues...

First of all, I have to admit that I was not in the meeting and have no idea what was said, but can you HONESTLY expect city employees to have answers to some of those questions. This project is still in planning, and not everything is figured out in one day Mike. Also, you mentioned how Mr. Leatherman had referred to Hurricane Katrina. Again, while I was not in the meeting, I highly doubt that Greg solely spoke of Hurricane Katrina. It was only a few weeks ago that Greg mentioned in a Journal Gazette numerous reasons for the hotel being 250 rooms. One which I remember from the top of my head was due to the situation with the Holiday Inn. Personally, I feel you should include all the parts of the story if you are going to include some of it.

Yes I do expect City employees to be able to answer all of the questions I asked. They want this project to be voted on in LESS THEN ONE MONTH.

Adam have you ever been involved in financing decisions in the corporate world? With a project of this magnitude no finance manager would bring this project to their Corporate Board, they would be laughed out of the room and told to come back with some facts...

Greg actually mentioned several things. He agreed that the hotel request had been lowered from 300 rooms in January. He stated it was due to increased construction costs due to events such as Hurrice Katrina. He said that since construction costs had increased the hotel would generate more property taxes for the project.

All of this is CLEARLY explained in my post and to be honest with you his explanation does not make sense to me. He is correct that construction costs have risen in the last couple of years. The RFP was send out in December of 2006. When the RFP was sent out you CANNOT believe that Fort Wayne sent out an RFP with the WRONG construction costs, or can you Adam?

My current guess is that Fort Wayne DID NOT TAKE the increased construction costs into account until they received only one bid, and that bid for 250 rooms... Then they went back and checked their number...

There are other explanations that would make sense as well... Many of those are more cynnical and I choose not to express them... I am sure you can come up with some other ideas if you use your imagination...

Greg also did mention the Holiday Inn. He has mentioned it in the press and he mentioned it to me...

Adam, there is NO WAY ON EARTH that I can explain every nuance of a 90 minute conversation...

It seems to me Mike, that the city and ALL proponents are in a no-win situation with you. Do I respect some of the points you bring up? Yes, and many of your questions will eventually have answers. But you have to realize Mike, that no matter what the city would have done, you would have criticized it somehow, someway. If they hadn’t allowed you to speak with them, then you REALLY would have criticized them. They couldn’t win.

Actually Adam I would highly encourage you to do some research about my INITIAL response to Harrison Square on this very blog.

Please go and read my first post on Harrison Square...

It is entitled, "Harrison Square, new plans unveiled for downtown baseball stadium in Fort Wayne." It was posted on Dec 21st, 2006.

Adam you say that eventually there will be answers to my questions. When will that be? Will the plan be finalized on March 23rd and then voted on a week later?

Adam I only criticize people and projects that I do not think are good for taxpayers...

You are CORRECT. If they did not speak with me I WOULD HAVE criticized them. I hope everyone else in Fort Wayne would criticize them as well if they did not answer the public's questions...

I can’t have said it better than the way Scott did in his post. Do some of your questions really have any significance to the project as a whole? Absolutely not. You are trying your absolute best to find issues with this project, and that is truly disappointing knowing how much this could do for our city. Look at Scott for instance—he is coming back to Fort Wayne. I know at least three people who have told me they WILL LEAVE if this project doesn’t go forward because it would show the path that this city is heading for.

I have heard other people say that if Fort Wayne keeps wasting their tax dollars they will be forced to move away Adam...

Do you know how much property taxes are going to go up with the CSO project and the unfunded pension liabilities we currently have? I maintain that we need to address teh COS problem and the unfunded pension liability FIRST and quit spending money on frivious projects...

How do you draw jobs to Fort Wayne if your property taxes keep skyrocketing? Answer; you DO NOT.

One last thing in reference to Mark’s post. Mark, you must realize that this is not the same type of project as the ones completed in South Bend and Gary…..NOT EVEN CLOSE. If you take a look around the country at cities who have completed these projects the way Fort Wayne plans on, not one city has had a failing project—not one. Gary and South Bend did things much different. They built a stadium thinking it would revitalize. This isn’t just about a stadium Mark. This is about a multi-use development project. To become more informed on this, read the Bluepring Plus and Baseball Plus reports. If you do, you might see what I am talking about. Take a look at Greenville NC and Greensboro SC. Even take a look at Dayton. They are now planning on condos and retail space to accompany their ballpark…..something our city has already included in the original plan.

Since this is directed at Mark I will ignore it...

We must support our leaders such as Sam Talarico and Mayor Richard who truly are doing their best to make our city a better place. It’s so disappointing that we have this “keep it as it is” attitude. Numerous times in our city’s history we have had opportunities to improve our city and each and every time, we have failed to act. If that’s the kind of city you want, then fine. You better get ready to continue to say good-bye to the youth of this city then.Notice how almost every major leader in our city has supported this project—the mayor, Talarico, Tim Pape, Paula Hughes, the Chamber of Commerce, Bob Taylor, Chancellor Mike Wartell, Mark Pope. This list goes on and on and is comprised of Democrats, Republicans and business leaders. This isn’t about Libertarian, Republican, and Democrats Mike. This is about shaping our future to be the best it can be. Now I feel it’s time for you to stand up and join these leaders as someone who wants what is best for our future.

Adam we have a perfectly good baseball stadium and have no reason to move it. It they would have chosen a different "anchor" project I might have supported the project...

73% of the residents of Fort Wayne are AGAINST the project, if not more. I have asked at least 100 people what they think of this project and well over 73% of them are against it.

Why is this project being rammed down our throats?

God Bless
Adam Welch

Good Grief
Mike Sylvester

15 comments:

brian said...

Mike-
What type of an anchor project would work better in your opinion?
I agree that there could be other options and it would be interesting to hear those ideas from different angles/people.

Already-been-mentioned category:
waterpark
ice skating rink
aquarium
multi-sports arena

Scott Greider said...

Mike,

How's come Adam's post gets the red-letter treatment and not mine? I feel ignored. :-(

BTW, we on for lunch on the 15th? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Mike,

will you please introduce us to the private developers willing to put 10s of millions into anyone of your other anchor ideas?

Mike, admit it. You would be against this project regardless of the particulars.

Your post above has some comments that really make me question your analysis of the deal as a whole. Wow, "Laughed out of Boardroom". Doesnt give much credit to the bipartisan group of business leaders that have come out in support of this. You are basically insinuating that they are all unmitigated bafoons.

Sam

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I got 10 phone calls last week and 8 people were for it. Therefore 80% of citizens are for Harrison Square using the newly adopted Sylvester polling techniques.

Anonymous said...

I really do not want to interject myself into this one BUT....

I will take exception to Mike's comment that "we have a perfectly good baseball stadium..."

In fact, Randy Brown is already looking to spend somewhere between $7-10 million in improvements if Harrison Square does not happen.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Brian:

The best downtown project would be a casino. It would draw thousands of poeple downtown each and every week.

I think the waterpark, ice rink, and multi-sports arean all have merit.

I think an aquarium or an Imax theatre MIGHT work.

Mike Sylvester

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Scott:

I will see you on the 15th.

The reason I did not highlight your post is because you and I disagree on this issue and we DO NOT personally attack each other...

Adam decided to make some personal attacks and I felt like defending myself...

Mike Sylvester

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam:

I can list at least 10 casino operators that will put TENS of millions of dollars into Downtown. In fact, they will pay for both the hotel and casino without ANY PUBLIC money.

Mike Sylvester

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Anonymous said:

I never said I was polling anyone.

What I said and what I 100% stand by is well over 73% of the people I talk to are against Harrison Square. I live on the northern edge of Fort Wayne and the project is VERY unpopular up here...

I feel that any scientific poll will show a majority of residents against the project...

Please show me one that show a majority of people are in favor...

Mike Sylvester

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Another anonymous said:

I think that we will have to put 5 million into the stadium... That is a lot less then the project in question...

Mike Sylvester

DowntownFortWayne said...

I have heard the idea of a casino before and yes, I could see casino developers interested in making an investment in Fort Wayne.

However, is it legal according to State Law? Current Indiana casinos are on Lake Michigan and the Ohio river- much different than the Maumee, St. Joe, or St. Mary's. I have had a few people ask this and I do not have a concrete answer. Maybe you can help.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Downtown:

I think it is legal.

The problem is that the State issued a limited number of licenses to operate casinos and they are all being used.

Fort Wayne would need to get the State to issue another one. With all of the local members in positions of power I think it could be done...

Mike Sylvester

Jeff Pruitt said...

This idea that there are no other developers that are willing to invest money downtown is really misleading.

I would suggest that if the city put out a generic RFP saying they would support development downtown to the tune of $120Million in a 50/50 partnership I'd bet you'd get some bites.

They didn't do this. The BaseballPLUS committee started from the question of whether or not a baseball stadium COULD revitalize downtown. But that question is irrelevant. The question SHOULD have been - what is the best project to revitalize downtown?

I, personally DO question anyone that is publicly supporting this project right now. There is ZERO evidence that this project will work at this point. Will there be solid proof in the coming weeks? Perhaps, but I would think most people would withold their support until the project plan is fully in place...

Anonymous said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. You would support a casino over a baseball stadium? This does not sound like a very family-friendly idea to me; more like a family divider, given the extreme addiction possiblities that come with gambling and drinking. While not a baseball fan myself, I would much prefer a sporting facility over a casino. I also don't buy the idea that 10 casino owners would gladly build a gambling facility in a smoke-free town...

brian said...

Good point about gambling in a smoke-free town. I agree that I would absolutely prefer family entertainment over a casino. Casinos are adults only. Downtown attractions should be available to the most people as possible.