To the editor:
Over the last two months, the city of Green Lake has moved swiftly to support the redevelopment of the Heidel House. Everyone agrees redevelopment of Heidel House is vital, however, much of the decision making has been in closed council sessions with few details made public.
On Friday, before a holiday weekend, the Developer’s Agreement with the city was made public. The project plan has been available at City Hall but neither documents were made available online.
The city is providing around $3 million in financial support in the form of a TID. The good news is that the contract seems sound from a legal, risk and financial standpoint. Less encouraging is the specificity on what the city is actually buying. The requirement for the second $1.5 million payment is “the project is substantially completed and the Heidel House Resort is opened as a hotel and convention center.” There is nothing that specifies the quality, design and size of the hotel. Neither employment nor the amount of space dedicated toward the resort is contractually specified.
Although multiple restaurants have been mentioned in quotes, none are specified in the developer’s agreement. The first $1.5 million will have the city paying up to 60% of the demolition costs of the buildings including Grey Rock Mansion and other site preparation. The Project Plan suggests about 5 acres will be developed for residential use and 13 for the resort. The contract is silent on this term. Contractually, it seems like the majority of land could legally be developed for residential real estate. This may be the best answer, but if that is a possibly, the public should understand what they are paying for.
So, I applaud the mayor for proactively and quickly leading this process, but I think the agreement is long on financial detail and short on answering the question of what the community is buying. Also, the Project Plan calls for expenditures covered by the city that will finance the residential development; these include the city’s reimbursement for land, demolition, site prep for land that is specified for residential development in the Project Plan. The Mayor has been quoted definitively that no financial support will go to residential development. The opposite is suggested in the project plan and the agreement does not prohibit it.
Nor do the documents that so thoroughly spell out the city’s financial commitment comment on the developer’s investment.
So, the public knows a lot about what will be removed, but has very little information on what will be built and to what degree the city’s skin in the game will be matched by private funds.