BUZZ Blog: City urges council to vote, not delay, on NorShor purchase
Peter Passi and Brandon Stahl cover issues related to the city of Duluth. Follow BUZZ on Twitter.
A quick note to the members of the "Save the NorShor" facebook page: the council gets it. You want to save the NorShor. For the sake of my inbox, please, please, please stop sending emails.
Also: no one is threatening to close down the NorShor. So there's nothing to save it from, unless you mean "saving it from its continuing life as a strip club." In which case, just be honest.
* The estimate that the city could save up to $1.6 million on skywalk costs if the properties are purchased, based on an by LHB associates. What's not said: Eric Ringsred would likely sue the city if the skywalks were built through the route the city is proposing that would save the $1.6 million. But that lawsuit would probably be close to meaningless, if his lawsuit against the city for putting the skywalk across to the Tech Village is any indication.
* The city will "sell the Annex and the Opera building" after the skywalks are connected. What makes me wonder: you're not going to sell the Theater? And if so, does that mean the city will be in the business of running the theater? Or will it be sold if/when the city gets bonding money to redevelop it? (In order for a project to get bonding money, it has to be owned by a government entity)
* The city is contractually obligated to build the skywalks all the way to SMDC. You probably knew that. While the actual full connection deadline for the skywalk is "open ended," according to the city, the agreement with the Sheraton calls for completion by "the end of summer 2011." I didn't know that. My guess (and this is only a guess): the owner of the Sheraton is non-too-pleased that the 2011 deadline won't be met any time soon, and is likely putting pressure on the city to get it done.
* Something I don't understand: "While the city owns the properties, there will be no lost tax revenue." This is probably just above my head, but does the city have to pay taxes on properties it owns?
* A question is asked by the council if the closing date can be extended, and the city basically says no. "Additional significant risk would be added to closing this transaction if it is delayed beyond the agreed-upon closing date. While it can be reasonably argued that there is risk related to continuing with the transaction under current terms, the Administration is of the opinion that the Closing should continue on schedule. Additional information is being gathered as quickly as possible to identify, quantify and/or mitigate as many risks as possible."
Here's what not answered, that I'm guessing the council will ask tonight:
* What's the long-range plan with the NorShor? Who's spending the money to redevelop it, what's the timeline to do it, and what will go in there in the meantime?
* What do our state legislators say about the likelihood of getting state bonding money to assist with the renovations by 2012, which the mayor has said he hopes to achieve?
* How will the city pay for the skywalks? Actually, this question was apparently asked at the DEDA meeting. The answer: the city will bond for the money -- go into debt.
* Has the city invited the NorShor strippers to come to the presentation tonight? Because seriously, it's going to be a long, long meeting tonight, and the assembled members of the council and press could use something to entertain us.