1 West State Street: 2010 Story
So, much hullaballoo has been made about 1 West State Street, formerly Brodeur’s, formerly the New Orleans Café … formerly … Old Borough Hall.
So, let’s try and piece this together, shall we?
First, realize that a lot of the negotiations about 1 West State Street are done in executive session because it deals with issues of money where a public discussion could be disadvantageous to the borough.
Current president Pete Alyanakian brought up the issue of Old Borough Hall when he ousted Peter Williamson as President in July. Mr. Alyanakian’s position on Old Borough Hall has been to sell the building since 1999 according to his mayoral web site (since taken down …)
So, reviewing the 2010 meeting minutes and attending the meetings, what we found was …
Note that this was the first term and first meetings for freshmen council members Dawn Roe, Monika Rehoric, and Eric Stein.
Peter Williamson and Monica Simpson were elected President and Vice President, respectively, by a vote of 6-1, with Jim Cunningham the only dissenting vote.
Monica Simpson (then Vice President) was appointed to the Properties Committee, which manages borough properties, such as 1 West State Street.
A subcommittee was formed in January: “President Williamson mentioned that a sub-committee has been formed in order to address this matter. There has been a lot of interest in this property. The sub-committee is reviewing this matter carefully.”
Borough Council held a public hearing regarding 1 West State Street on February 18th, 2010 at 7:00 PM. At this meeting, notable comments were:
- Zubair Khan, MBA Executive Director suggested it was a bad time to sell the property, and they should offer a lower rental rate
- Tedman O’Hara, head of the Media Republicans, believed selling the building was the best option.
- Other residents suggested waiting due to a poor market, or leasing because sale money would “disappear”
The borough council meeting was immediately afterward, and so no legislative action was taken in February.
Hey, a motion was made by Monica Simpson to advertise the sale of 1 West State Street using sealed bids, as well as prepare a lease for potential lessees, the goal being to “keep options open.” Here’s where things get interesting:
- Pete Alyanakian voted against the motion because:
- “most lease agreements are specific to the business moving in … ” and
- “he wants Council to sell the building.”
- Jim Cunningham voted against the motion. The minutes state:
- “Councilman Cunningham inquired if one document would have a negative impact on the other and if there would be an air of uncertainty.”
- Monika Rehoric voted against the motion as well, no record of why.
So … now I’m confused. Pete is for selling the building, so much so that he absolutely refuses to lease it, at all?
The irony is that we apparently are in a “recession,” and I’m uncertain if the market conditions are more favorable for the sale of a million dollar building in Media, or the rental of same building.
My guess is that finding a renter is probably slightly easier than finding a buyer, but then, I am not a realtor.
At the working meeting: “Vice-President Simpson provided an update on the sale/lease of 1 W. State Street. Solicitor Scott mentioned the bid specification and noted that proposals would be due by June 1, 2010 and will appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily Times and online at www.cityfeet.com. Solicitor Scott also mentioned that Council has the ability to reject any/all bids.”
At the legislative meeting, a resident asked why the borough wasn’t using a commercial realtor to sell 1 West State Street, and the answer from Borough Manager Jeffrey Smith:
“The Borough is bound by law as a municipality to a sealed bid process.”
Only mention this month in public meetings was from Councilman Jim Cunningham regarding legal costs dealing with the sale of 1 West State Street. President Peter Wiliamson requested a report from Solicitor Scott for the working meeting in June.
“With regard to the status of 1 W. State Street, Vice-President Simpson mentioned while there were 18 parties that expressed interest in the property, no bids were received. The Borough will re-evaluate the specification to determine if it should be revised. The Borough will attempt to obtain feedback from the parties that expressed interest previously and will also re-evaluate the lease option.”
Apparently there was discussion during executive session in July at the Workshop meeting, however, no public record of the discussion.
At the legislative meeting: “Vice-President Simpson provided an update on the status of 1 W. State Street, indicating that no bids were received on June 1, 2010 for the sale of the property. The Borough is attempting to clear some equipment from inside the property and obtain a second round of cleaning in the building.”
Which brings us to …
At a “special meeting” (one in which legislative action can take place) on August 5th:
A comment from the public at this meeting regarding 1 West State Street:
Hm. So President Alyanakian was against the lease in March, but mentions it as an option now? I’m trying to understand what was the difference between the April-June bidding process and the August bidding process? Perhaps he simply said “sell or lease” accidentally …
The August legislative meeting was packed full of people and is covered in detail here. The only mention of 1 West State Street was from Peter Williamson who indicated that 1 West State Street was worked on very hard by Councilwoman Simpson, and that the borough was legally bound to do a bid process before allowing a more traditional offer process.
At some point in August, Monica Simpson was removed from the Properties committee, and Monika Rehoric was appointed as chair of the Properties committee.
A unanimous vote was made to choose Jeff Dowd of Zommick-McMahon, a commercial realtor, to sell or rent 1 West State Street.
At the October Workshop, there were hints that there was interest in 1 West State Street.
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