Pensacola Politics

CMPA problem is process, not size

April 25, 2013

I wrote last month about the lack of a set process for the CMPA/City Council/Mayor to lease the parcels at Maritime Park. During the debate over the YMCA leasing parcel 8, the mayor announced that he had hired CBRE to help the city develop a plan for the park leases and other city properties.

Then last week, we find out that the mayor decided not to wait for CBRE and had Clark Merritt, his head of Sustainability, negotiate with Beck Properties for parcel 1. The Becks have come up with a solid proposal, but why did the mayor chose them as the sole bidder for it? Isn’t the mayor completely jumping the gun on his own consultant?

The Beck proposal should go through because they have negotiated in good faith and made their best offer. The Becks did nothing wrong. However, what happens on the other parcels? Should developers wait for Merritt to call them and ask them to make a proposal?

Why isn’t the city following the Request for Proposal process? If I’m reading the Florida Statute Chap. 163 correctly, the mayor is required to do so.

Chapter 163.380 states:

Prior to disposition of any real property or interest therein in a community redevelopment area, any county, municipality, or community redevelopment agency shall

–give public notice of such disposition by publication in a newspaper having a general circulation in the community, at least 30 days prior to the execution of any contract to sell, lease, or otherwise transfer real property and, prior to the delivery of any instrument of conveyance with respect thereto under the provisions of this section, invite proposals from, and make all pertinent information available to, private redevelopers or any persons interested in undertaking to redevelop or rehabilitate a community redevelopment area or any part thereof.

–Such notice shall identify the area or portion thereof and shall state that proposals must be made by those interested within 30 days after the date of publication of the notice and that such further information as is available may be obtained at such office as is designated in the notice.

In the pre-new charter era, the city manager used the RFP process for the leasing, sale or transfer of all city property.

I maintain the number of CMPA board members isn’t the problem. The issue is still the process and whether the process followed by the city follows state law.

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  • EPenn April 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Saturday, it was a great process! Look at all those new tech jobs at the City Tech Park! On a side note… it made a better parking lot than tech anything… ha ha… but those benches in the middle of, well nothing, are nicely placed. :P

  • Saturday in the park April 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Big surprise Rick – I knew it would be a matter of time before you tried to pin this on the mayor. The Beck deal is a long way from being finalized – they have simply presented a proposal at this point. I trust that the CMPA would tweak the proposal and present a counter offer. No need to rush into anything unless the Becks are using that tried and true tactic of threatening to walk if they don’t get what they want right now. Call their bluff. You most likely have your sequence of events wrong. My guess is that the Becks expressed interest in the CMP site to the Mayor and he directed them to Merritt who directed them to CMPA. The process worked the way that it should if in fact that is the case. Please – no more journalism by conjecture if you please. Becks were smart to jump in prior to CBRE getting involved as CBRE would tighten up the deal to the city’s favor as they will be contracted to do.
    When you refer to the pre-new charter era process of the city manager using the RFP process are you suggesting that we devolve to a system that led to the debacle known as Hawkshaw? No thank you sir.

  • Justin Beck April 25, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    A point of clarification, We have not negotiated anything with Clark Merritt. During a casual conversation with Clark, i mentioned to him our desire to build a building, and he responded, “why not build it at the CMP, it would be a great spot” that was the scope of our conversation. No one directed us to Clark, and there were no negotiations that took place before our offer was submitted in writing.

  • CJ Lewis April 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    A better title would be, “CMPA problem is Hayward, not process or size.” The ground sublease process is prescribed in simple declarative sentences in Section 10 of the Community Maritime Park’s Master Lease Agreement. Contrary to what Mayor Ashton Hayward claims without an ounce of proof, Section 10 prescribes no role for the Mayor except as the City Council may direct. The private Community Maritime Park Associates, Inc. has leased all of the Community Maritime Park site until May 28, 2069. The CMPA also owns the Public Improvements to include the Multi-Use Facility (Blue Wahoos Stadium).

    Section 10 is written in clear language giving Pensacola’s “Mayor-Realtor” no self-assigned role. The City Council – “Governing Body of the City [Lessor]” – has a narrowly defined role granting its final approval within a set timeline to ground subleases executed by the CMPA with developers. I read the term “fair value” in Section 10 to broadly mean both the actual per square foot lease rate and the cumulative lease payment. The CMPA should extract as much money from developers as it can to benefit the City. It should not give sweetheart sublease deals to its friends that do not maximize the taxpayers’ return on investment. The Beck’s puny proposal for an 18,000 square foot building on Parcel 1 hardly qualifies as “solid.” It is a painfully underwhelming offer. Build much more; pay us much more money.

    The CMPA is required to sublease the ground parcels with the City, Council and School Board getting the property tax revenues and the City getting the lease payments. What does the CMPA do other than sit around bragging about how great it is? Why has the CMPA refused to hire a new Master Developer and market the ground parcels beyond its friends in the 32591 zip code region? What has Collier Merrill been doing as Chairman of the CMPA? In my opinion, the CMPA has done a negligent job with little to nothing to show for its recent work. Perhaps the City Council should appoint itself and the Mayor as the Trustees of the CMPA.

    City Attorney Jim Messer just weeks ago told the Council that it was the CMPA that had to negotiate subleases with developers. As I recall, Messer’s few words were something so simple an AWOL Councilman Larry Johnson could have understood them like, “The CMPA negotiates the subleases.” Ouch! Now we learn that Hayward is directing a staff underling within the Office of the Mayor to “negotiate” with Beck Properties. By what legal authority? Further, has either Hayward or Clark Merritt ever read the Community Maritime Park’s Design Criteria Pattern Book posted to the CMPA’s website? Do they know that Parcel 1 was designed to accommodate up to a 4-5 story building of up to 73,500 square feet to include with structured parking? If not, why not? Who is running the City government?

    As for Florida Statute Chapter 163.380, why would the Mayor be involved here? The Mayor is not a member of the Pensacola Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), a dependent special district of the City legally distinct and separate from the City of Pensacola. Councilman Brian Spencer is the Chairman of the CRA. The Charter does not mention the CRA and gives the Mayor no role in the CRA. The CRA, CMPA and City have an Interlocal Agreement for the Community Maritime Park project. The Interlocal Agreement mentions Chapter 163 of Florida Statutes a total of 12 times. The Interlocal Agreement never once mentions the Mayor. The City Council is mentioned by name.

    The Mayor has no more authority over the Community Maritime Park than did the City Manager he replaced as the city’s chief administrative official. Check the Code of Ordinances for proof. If the Charter Review Commission (CRC) had wanted to recommend that the Mayor be the leader of the City’s Governing Body it would have done so. It did not. By design, in order to allow the Mayor to strong-arm Council members Out-of-the-Sunshine, the Mayor’s governing role is limited. CRC Chairman Crystal Spencer even advised the Council in 2009 that the Charter does not provide for a Strong Mayor-Council form of government. As I recall, the CRC never once even discussed the CRA let alone the Community Maritime Park.