Once again, Mayor’s office changes the lease approval process for Maritime Park

(Michael Spooneybarger/ Pensacola Today)

On June 18, the Pensacola City Council held a workshop on two development proposals. CBRE and MCM-BAP presented on a proposed hotel, mixed housing and public-private funded parking garage. The Studers presented their proposals for parcels 3, 6 and 9 – which included a conference center and the Center for Entrepreneurship.

The council wasn’t too pleased with the MCM-BAP proposals and was told that the developer would submit a new plan before the July council meeting. (Note: A plan has not been given to the council as of July 14.)

However, the city council did like the concepts presented by the Studers and were told to work with CMPA to get the leases back to them as soon as possible.

Scott Remington, the Studers’ attorney, asked, “Will you let us know whoever is the best person to work with?”

Council President Andy Terhaar replied, “Get ’em to the CMPA, then I’ll get them on our agenda.”

Councilwoman Sherri Myers asked for council president to call for a special meeting to vet the leases and to not wait another month. Terhaar agreed.

Well, a month has passed. CMPA Board Chairman Jim Reeves told Inweekly he is still waiting for the Mayor’s office to complete the leases and for the council to approve them. He said once the council votes, he will call a special meeting to voted on the final contracts.

The Mayor’s office never drafted the leases. Terhaar couldn’t call the special meeting. The project has stalled.

There will be a special meeting on Thursday, but it won’t be to vet the leases. No, the council is being asked by the Mayor’s office to give “conceptual approval” and authorize the city’s lawyers to draft the leases. A newly created hoop for the Studers—an unnecessary one since the council gave conceptual approval on June 18.

For the past four weeks, Remington has tried to meet with the city and its attorneys at Beggs & Lane. Quint Studer has repeatedly met with Mayor Hayward, who has publicly said he endorses the projects. Hayward committed to have the lease documents completed by July 7. The city can use the two current leases as the template. Still the drafts have not been completed.

Studer cannot figure out why his leases are being treated different than those from other developers. He said CBRE and the mayor’s office worked hard to help a Miami developer get his proposals before the council, but he has been left to fight for himself, meeting resistance from the mayor’s office.

“From the very beginning, we asked the mayor and his staff for what is the process,” Studer told. “Apparently there is no process.”

Last fall, the Studers responded to the city’s RFP for the remaining parcels at the Maritime Park with proposals for parcels 3 and 9. However, rather than offering to pay CBRE a “success fee” on the build-out of the developments, the Studers offered to pay commissions on the lease payments. When several CMPA board members weren’t enthusiastic about the offer, the offer was withdrawn.

In January, CBRE presented $60-million proposal from a Miami developer. The CMPA board and Mayor’s office were excited. Unfortunately, the deal fell apart.

The Studers began talking with UWF about coming downtown. They resubmitted their proposal and added parcel 6 for the Center for Entrepreneurship. CMPA Board, City Council and the Mayor all expressed support.

Still no leases.