The administrators had a $1.8 million purchase agreement with Regency Centers so that a giant Kroger Marketplace could be built, but the deal fell through last summer. Administrators recently met with Regency and Kroger, but Welch said as far as he was concerned, negotiations were over as they were still asking the township to pay for some of the necessary infrastructure improvements that could cost up to $2-4 million. of dollars.
“They basically want to come back for a redesign with pretty much the same terms and I’ll say no, I’m not, I’ll vote against it every time,” Welch said. “You know you had no skin in the game, you dragged this out, and then because you thought it was going to impact your bottom line, you let the deal die.”
There is a TIF in this area, but it only contains about $100,000 and the increased property taxes resulting from the improvement could take 20 years to recoup the money the township would spend on the road and other improvements.
Trustee Ann Becker agreed they haggled too long with the grocery giant.
There were many moving parts and parties involved in building a new 117,166 square foot market. The deal was dependent on Regency Centers being able to acquire the activity center, Providence Bible Fellowship Church, a piece of Chesterwood Village, and easements and agreements with about 10 other owners to complete the complicated deal.
The administrators granted Regency an extension of the deadline set in the purchase agreement until March 2020. The company had 90 days to acquire the church and Chesterwood properties and six months to carry out due diligence. However, three 90-day extensions could be requested at a cost of $50,000 each. The administrators agreed to amend the contract by giving Regency an additional six months with $100,000 due in September 2020. Regency canceled the deal just before payment was due, but there have been on-and-off discussions since then.
“They want help with the roads and they want help with the drainage and they want a big investment from the community,” Becker said. “We don’t have the money and there’s only a small TIF there so it would be general fund money that we would use for that, it’s not our job to build groceries . We want to be accommodating for development, but there comes a time when that doesn’t make sense to taxpayers.
Regency did not respond to requests for comment.
Welch still isn’t sure they should sell the activity center, he said he was “in a valley of decision” as he thinks the building has some “functionality” and that the rough estimate $3.4 million for restoration is high. He said he was ready to put it on the market to see what would happen.
He also noted that unlike typical resolutions that only require a simple majority to pass, the sale of the center would have to be unanimous.
The township considered three options to provide seniors and others with meeting space: renovating the activity center, installing heating and air conditioning in the Muhlhauser barn so seniors could use the lower level and the estimated $5.5 million expansion of the MidPointe Library.
Welch doesn’t want to expand the library, but Becker and Trustee Lee Wong support that option. Becker said they filed the engineering contract for the library, but thought they had to bid on the project. Wong said he also wanted to sell the activity center, “we really want to get more bang for our buck, to either sell it or some business decision that brings in more money for the residents.”
He wouldn’t explain further what he had in mind, but said “there are a lot of options to bring in taxpayers’ money in addition to Kroger.”
Despite advance notice that the trustees would take action on two of the options for the seniors’ gathering space, the group of seniors who religiously participated in the trustees’ meetings were not there. Nancy and Jack Williams led the group and she told the Journal-News that they had “let go” of the administrators by giving them a place to meet.
“We pretty much gave up on that,” she said of the activity center. “We love the Boys and Girls Club, we love the place, it’s awesome.”
She said they will also start meeting at the library on Fridays in January and think they have an option for the summer when they cannot meet at the Boys and Girls Club. She said that “so far” things are going well.