Friday, March 09, 2007

Harrison Square, Smoke and Mirrors...

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
pamphlets etc...

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:
Lincoln
Hotel
Wizards Fans
Other

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...

Mike Sylvester

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...

10 comments:

Scott Greider said...

Holy Toledo, Mike! You're like the Energizer Bunny! Your side got trounced last night, and you come back stronger than ever! Takes a lickin' and keeps on...

;-)

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Scott:

I am used to being in the minority...

On this issue I am in the vast majority...

Most Fort Wayne residents oppose the project...

Mike Sylvester

brian said...

I don't see where you get "vast majority" from. I think the view is changing as more opportunities for discussion are available.
The meeting the other night was expected to be a "vast majority" of opponents to Harrison Square and it wasn't. It was a ra-ra party for supporters.

There are two more meetings this week, one is at IPFW and one is at the downtown library. Both events take place this Wednesday March 14

I have a question Mike, what "demographic" did you notice has the most support of this project from your experience at the meeting?

Anonymous said...

I was also at that meeting. and I believe the city took control of this and managed to have their supporter there. This was to have been a forum handled by Tom Smith and Don Schmidt.... who were there but managed to only have a few minutes to speak about this. City government were all over this meeting. I for one am in favor of a MULTI USE FACILITY....

brian said...

Tom Smith and Don Schmidt were front and center. They had their opportunity.
Wasn't the meeting created for them to hear from their constituents and not the other way around?

Why do you assume supporters must have been planted by the city? Will they be planted at IPFW and the downtown library this week also?

B.G. (Semper Paratus) said...

A good argument for NOT wearing loose-fitting pants if EVER I heard one....

And why is that you ask?

When the pants fit better, you KNOW when someone goes reaching into them for your money....!

B.G.

Anonymous said...

brian,
The meeting was not designed for this topic at all. This was a neighborhood association meeting that Don and Tom were scheduled guests to get feedback on the proposal. Instead it turned into a push job by the mayor's office. They were making phone calls all day to make sure they had people there that night. I recognized more than half the crowd was involved in the development of this project. I'm ashamed that I work in an office that would resort to this kind of misleading tactic.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Brian:

If you use the meeting as a gauge (Which would be a TERRIBLE idea)then I would say that in general younger poeple favor the project and older people oppose the project...

I will tell you what I think:

Many companies who rely on drawing talent from outside of Fort Wayne seem to favor the project...

Many people who live or work downtown seem to favor the project.

I think young people tend to favor the project.

I feel that older people tend to oppose the project.

I think fiscal conservative oppose the project.

I think business owners on the edges of Fort Wayne oppose the project.

I think most accountants will oppose the project based on the financial aspects of the project...

I think most poeple who live on the edges of Fort Wayne will also oppose the project...

In short, there is little doubt in my mind the the only poll taken on the topic shows that 73% of Fort Wayne residents oppose the project... I think the number is likely HIGHER then that...

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Your analysis is incredible sometimes. "Most Accountants will be against this project". How in the heck do you manage to know this?? How about... "Most accountants that I run around with are against" Or "Most accountants in my firm are against" OR "most accountants that are members of the libertarian party and named Sylvester are against it".

Your statements above are just a tad sweeping. Mike, I know a couple accountants myself AND they are for it. Can you believe that Mike?! Its actually possible to be an accountant and see this project differently than you do.

So you say, the only poll showed 73%.... but the only public "field" hearing showed strong support for the project.

Sam

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam:

I do make sweeping statements at times...

You do realize that this weblog reflects my OPINIONS don't you?

The one in question is and I quote "I think most accountants will oppose the project based on the financial aspects of the project..."

I 100% stand behind this statment because I DO think that most accountants will be against the project.

To be more specific I have asked NINE accountants that I know what they think of the project and the results are:

6 against
2 not sure
1 in favor


I think EVERYONE except you understands that what I posted was just my opinion and that every statement that I utter is not rooted in scientific fact...

I will bet you ANYTHING that you would like that a majority of accountants in Fort Wayne will oppose this project. ANYTHING...

Consider the following about accountants:

1. Most are conservative.
2. Most base their decisions on "numbers."

The ONLY actual poll taken on Harrison Square clearly shows 73% of Fort Wayne residents are AGAINST the project as is. That is simple fact. In is undisputable...

Mike Sylvester