The former World Trade Center building slid a bit deeper in the development limbo pit when the city and Gatehouse Capitol Corp. broke up last month, putting the kibosh on plans for a 245-room W Hotel with 280 apartments. Now, David Garcia, the prez of DAG Development (one of Team Gatehouse's development partners) speaks out on what went wrong and well, we're going to go ahead and crown the city-owned building at the foot of Canal Street as the arrested development poster child.
It was no secret that there were some money-related issues over the lease proposal: Gatehouse's initial $10 million upfront payment for the 99-year lease wasn't considered enough loot for the riverfront real estate, which led to them upping the offer to $25.6 million, higher than the city's own $23.5 million appraisal. In an op-ed for The Times-Pic, Garcia writes that the city came back with a lease proposal that "required more than $100 million in present value, with more than $1.5 billion in projected lease payments during the 99-year term."
"When the city's RFP selection process began more than a year ago, our team had to overcome a competing proposal by local tourism officials. Their proposal would have demolished the WTC building with $25 million in public money for a small park because the building was considered worthless. Then, eight months after our proposal helped prevent demolition and our team was selected as the official RFP winner, the city terminated our negotiations claiming we were not offering enough money to lease the empty, dilapidated WTC building they now describe as the 'most valuable property in the City.'" Apparently, meetings were hard to come by, which explains the waiting game and hold up in negotiations that were originally expected to wrap up by the end of 2013. Garcia says they were allowed just "three brief meetings" with city staff and never got a chance to chat with the mayor, City Council, or economic development leaders. Question mark status, indeed.
· Puzzling WTC building saga continues - but why?: David Garcia [NOLA.com]
· WTC coverage [Curbed NOLA]