1 West State Street: What changed?
After covering the progress made by Borough Council on 1 West State Street in 2010, Media, PA News met with Jeff Dowd of Zommick-McMahon Commerical Real Estate in November to discuss the property and the real estate market in general.
Dowd started by saying that he was unable to discuss any specific details for 1 West State Street, but could say, “It’s one of the most active listings that I’ve got.” He also mentioned that the web site for the property 1weststatestreet.info has recently been updated with more information, such as a floor plan.
Media, PA News also gathered additional information regarding the changing votes of Media Borough members this year.
In March, when Properties chair Monica Simpson made the motion to sell and/or lease 1 West State Street, three members of council voted against the motion: Pete Alyanakian, Jim Cunningham, and Monika Rehoric.
Later, in September when they selected Dowd to sell the property, they voted in favor of sale and or lease. Media, PA News asked all three of them during the October legislative meeting why their votes had changed. Ms. Rehoric, taken off guard, stated at the time that she never voted against that motion.
Jim Cunningham said:
“I did not feel based upon our history with leasing the property in the past that it was in our best interest. I felt that it should be sold outright so we could get out of the real estate business which we are really not qualified or competent to deal with.”
Pete Alyanakian said:
“I did not feel we should lease the building.”
When asked about why he changed his vote in September when hiring Dowd for sale and lease:
“We had to hire Mr. Dowd, we have to keep the options open to us. I don’t think the lease is the best option at this point in time but, you know, it may come to that if we have no sales. We’re in the worst commercial real estate market in 20-30 years so we have to keep our options open, so, yes, I changed my mind and decided that if an option of a lease with a great purchaser behind it we’d have to do so.”
When former tenant Dan Brodeur broke his lease last year, Mr. Alyanakian was quoted in the Daily Times stating that he wanted a tenant quickly, although realistically it wouldn’t be until Summer of 2010:
“Do we all want to (have a tenant quickly)? Absolutely. I think we have to be realistic and think we could go through the summer before we get someone in there,” he said.
In following up with Monika Rehoric, she later said by email:
“I have always stated that the Borough should not own property nor be a landlord particularly with the 1 West property. During the March workshop meeting we had all agreed to sell and NOT lease when we went out to bid. The day of the regular meeting, around 3:30 pm I received a phone call from Ms. Simpson stating that she wanted to include a lease agreement when making a motion regarding 1 West. Clearly I was not going to be in favor of that idea. That is why I voted against the total motion.”
I followed up regarding the changed vote. Ms. Rehoric said (via email):
“To answer your question regarding Jeff Dowd, once again the motion was paired together as one. In order to get this property on the market and be done with once and for all I really had no choice. I certainly was not going to vote against selling it. Another catch 22 situation.”
Ms. Rehoric’s comments are somewhat bewildering considering one of her reasons for changing the leadership in July was because things weren’t getting done. The future Borough Council President and Vice-President voted against selling and leasing the building in March (when things weren’t getting done), and for selling and leasing in September.
When asked about the state of the commercial real estate market in Media, Dowd stated that in 2010 it has been relatively busy, however, during the summer, his impression of the real estate market was that it slowed somewhat.
However, he said, “Once August came around, I’ve been running …”