I have reviewed the notes I took when I spoke with officials representing the City of Fort Wayne last week. I also asked a lot of questions last night to various officials at the public meeting.
Not one of my questions about the specifics on the financing was answered... Not one...
This project does NOT have a financing plan in place... It is currently all "smoke and mirrors."
This project is still in its VERY EARLY planning stages from a financial standpoint.
Sam Talarico has been a frequent commenter on this blog and is a passionate supporter of this project. Maybe Sam has been able to get some answers from the City that I have not received. Sam please let us know if you can answer ANY of the following questions with certainty!
1. How many rooms will the hotel have?
2. How many parking spaces will be in the parking garage?
3. What is the length of the bonds that will finance the project?
4. What will the interest rate be on these bonds?
5. How much general property tax revenue will the City lose due to the TIF expansion? (PLEASE do not repeat the Cities incorrect statement that it will not effect property taxes. It WILL effect property taxes because businesses like McMahon Tire are currently on the property tax rolls and they will be removed and will be part of the TIF district) My guess is that it will have a VERY slight effect on property taxes, I imagine it will be an increase of less then one tenth of one percent...
6. I have now been told by the City that the operation of the Parking garage will be paid for with money from the Jefferson Point TIF. Has this financial contribution been counted as public investment in the project? If so, was this counted over the life of the project?
7. What is the total public investment into the project for:
Land acquisition (Please include legal costs for using Eminent Domain to take land from
Belmont Beverages and please do include overhead the City incurred)
Demolition costs to prepare the land for construction. I recently was told that Fort
Wayne will be paying all demolition costs.
8. The City has used existing bonds to buy the land. Has this cost been factored into the project? Was this cost converted to current dollars with a present value factor of 5% to account for inflation?
9. How will Memorial stadium be operated? Who will pay this cost? Has this cost per year been converted into a sum using the present value method?
10. How much money will the Coliseum lose due to having fewer people park at the Coliseum during Wizards games? I have recently been told that much of the Parking revenue went to the Wizards.
11. Please let me know how much was used for each of the following fees and how it was accounted for:
Accounting, Financing, Legal, Architectural, Real Estate, Johnson Consulting Firm, Crowe
Chizck Consulting, Bonding costs, City Overhead, and of course City advertising in printing
12. Why do the pamphlets passed out last night still say the hotel will have a MINIMUM of 300 rooms? Did the City print up thousands of these back when they insisted the hotel would have at least 300 rooms? Don't you think the flyers should be updated to reflect the current situation? Why is the City passing out INACCURATE information on its flyers regarding the number of hotel rooms?
13. When accounting for City overhead were benefits and overtime included?
14. What is the negotiated deal with Lincoln?
15. What is the exact amount of the bond to be used to fund the project?
16. What is the present value of all tax incentives offered to the hotel? Please break down by type...
17. What is the present value of the revenue currently being generated by the buildings, land, homes, and businesses that will be demolished. Please understand that these revenues will go away and must be accounted for within the project financing...
18. What is the projected attendance for Wizards games over the life of the longest bond?
19. What is the projected hotel occupancy rate of the new hotel over the life of the longest bond?
20. What will the new hotel do to the existing hotels in the area? Will the City give tax incentives to the existing hotels to compensate them for lost revenue?
21. Do the City's projections consider the fact that THREE new hotels will be built on the north side of Fort Wayne?
22. How many parking spaces will be provided for the hotel. How will the hotel pay for these spaces?
23. How many parking spaces will be provided for the Wizards fans? Who will get the revenue from from these spaces?
24. What is the projected revenue that the parking garage will generate. Please give me a projected parking space occupancy rate for:
25. Will the New Markets Tax Credit be used?
26. When will the financing package be finalized?
27. When can I see the financing package in its entirety?
28. What are the revenue splits between the Wizards and the City of Fort Wayne?
29. What operating expenses will the city incur to operate the stadium and the parking garage?
30. I was recently told that Harding Dahm would be running the Parking Garage. How were they selected? What was the bidding process? How many local parking specialists were contacted for bids on the project?
There certainly are a lot more questions that need to be answered. Getting SOME of the above questions answered would be a good start Sam!
I am currently willing to bet that few, if ANY, of the above questions can be answered with certainty...
P.S. Sam, if you can answer the above questions you might well be able to convince people on the fence that the project is a good idea. If you cannot answer ANY of the above questions with certainty then no one should have an opinion on this project because there is not enough information available...