News and Tribune

July 13, 2012

LETTERS: Mainland Properties responds to recent NARC decision


NEW ALBANY —  Mainland Properties responds to recent NARC decision

Mainland Properties has devoted considerable time, energy and resources over the last few years to make the River View Project a success. Despite the challenging economic and real estate climate, significant progress has been made on the development, as detailed at the May, 2012 New Albany Redevelopment Commission [NARC] meeting.

Mainland Properties has worked in good faith with the City of New Albany, the NARC, and the City Council to apprise them of our progress and to respond to questions from all parties in a timely and professional manner. As a result, it was with much surprise when, on Tuesday, July 9, 2012, we learned an hour before a NARC meeting that our project was on the agenda.

Representatives of the City of New Albany assured Mainland Properties that the meeting was pro forma, and that we did not need to be present. It must, therefore, have been as much a surprise to the city as to Mainland Properties when the NARC voted to reject the amended option contract that had been prepared in consultation with their attorney, rescind its prior approval of River View’s option on the property, and request a new RFP be issued for future development.

NARC member Adam Dickey’s comment that progress on the development was inadequate, was surprising given that NARC members at the May, 2012 meeting found progress to be acceptable, agreeing to renew the current option, and add an additional option to 2014 as a bonus. At that meeting, Mainland Properties was asked to provide an initial draft of the option to the NARC attorney for edits, which we did. This option was reviewed by the city attorney as well before being returned to the NARC. It is notable that neither attorney found cause to make edits to the option.

Last year when the New Albany City Council, headed by then-council chairman Jeff Gahan, had questions about progress on the development, they worked with Mainland Properties to organize a series of three public meetings over the course of six months to ensure that everyone was on the same page. As a direct result of those consultations, Mainland Properties initiated a nationwide search for a new architectural team to ensure that we would deliver a project which would lead New Albany into the 21st century. The city and city council gave their approval of the new direction in January of this year. As a result, Mainland Properties has spent considerable resources to meet the milestones we heard from our stakeholders.

Mainland Properties understands that Mr. Dickey may have questions about the development, and we invite him to meet with us to explain our progress. If he has questions about the draft option, we encourage him to work with the NARC attorney to address his concerns. Of course, we regret that Mainland Properties was denied the opportunity to speak on our behalf at the Tuesday meeting, as we very well may have been able to avoid an outcome that belittles our efforts over the years and undermines public confidence in the redevelopment approval system.

Fortunately, given the ease with which these issues can be addressed, we see no need to issue a new RFP, and encourage NARC members to reconsider their position at the next meeting. It could hardly be in the interests of the City of New Albany and its citizens to recommence a process that is likely to take years to reach fruition when a “shovel ready” project sits at their doorstep. Such a capricious decision would send a terrible message to businesses contemplating investing in the community.

We remain optimistic that if NARC members meet with our team, they will leave energized by our project and confident in our team’s ability to deliver that final project.

Anita Massey,

project manager, River View Development