Mayor wants to settle Pitts Slip legal fees with land swap

On the council’s agenda for next week is a proposal by Mayor Ashton Hayward to settle the legal fees the city owes Seville Harbor in exchange for the sale of Pitts Slip Marina, home to The Fish House and Atlas Oyster Bar, and a ground lease for a city-owned South Palafox parking lot for development of a mixed-use residential/commercial condominium building.

The legal fees were incurred when Mayor Ashton Hayward failed to prevail in lawsuit regarding a default letter sent in November 2013 to Seville Harbor and Merrill Land claiming the companies owed the city millions of dollars in back rent (Inweekly, “How not to no business,” 12/3/13).

Over four years, the city lost the case, failed to win on appeal and had its petition to the Florida Supreme Court rejected. Meanwhile, legal fees continued to mount. The city paid Beggs & Lane $312,823.29 to represent its side of the case.

The mayor’s agenda item does not state the legal fees owed, the sales price for Pitts Slip or the lease payments for South Palafox. The dollar amounts have been left blank.

Proposed Settlement Agreement

Proposed South Palafox Ground Lease

Proposed Pitt Slip Purchase and Sale Agreement

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4 thoughts on “Mayor wants to settle Pitts Slip legal fees with land swap

  1. I don’t think you missed a thing , Luke. Remember, nobody sees the magic except the magicians.

  2. The Mayor has really screwed this up. This was the most egregious exhibit of incompetence and maladministration during his entire term, that started with an ill-advised “extortion” attempt against Merrill and Russenburger. Then He tried to defend the indefensible and got his arse handed to him by Ed Fleming. The most unfortunate aspect of this fiasco is the fact that the taxpayers are forced to pay for the Mayor’s incompetence and now will have to give up a valuable piece of city-owned property – forever eliminating any chance of a viable economic development opportunity for the City on those sites. Lysia Bowlings should also be sued for malpractice for her never ending string of bad legal advice and her oversight responsibilities for the city’s failing litigation. However, this failing and taxpayer expenses will seem pale in comparison to the eventual judgements against the City by Fire Chiefs Schmidt and Glover in their pending litigation against the city.

  3. Just so the timeline is clear: the mayor’s office goofs and renews a sweetheart lease deal that earns almost no income on a piece of prime water front property; tries to strong-arm the lessee into renegotiating the lease after they discover the mess up and presses the issue all the way to the Florida Supreme Court, racking up $350k in legal fees for the mayor’s friends at Beggs and Lane and $450k in legal fees from Fish House attorneys. Now that he’s lost at every possible junction the solution is to sell the property to the same lessee at a likely under-valued price point and lease another vacant waterfront property to the same business for 99-years, in what looks like another sweetheart lease deal. Did I miss anything?

  4. Here he goes again ignoring the City’s Procedures for the sale or lease of City owned property. He has learned nothing from the illegal radio tower lease on city owned property in the Conservation District and nothing from the lawsuit against the Fish Hatchery Lease on Bruce Beach. Council should insist on an appraisal and all other requirements met BEFORE it’s put on the Agenda.

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