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Jun 01

Giraffes And Slumlords

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

One of the benefits of being an internet celebrity is that it allows you the opportunity to do things such as feed giraffes. However, there are still drawbacks. The biggest being, it does not afford you the benefits of being a real journalist.

When you are a real journalist, people have no fear in feeding you secret information. Look at my pal Bob Woodward. He had people clamoring to dish him the dirt. I, on the other hand, am forced to eavesdrop and fill in the blanks with nonsensical filler like being Bob Woodward’s pal. This was never more evident than it was in the case of the Ypsilanti Parkview Apartments.

You may recall a few months ago that the Ypsilanti City Council was looking to sell the Parkview Apartments to the Finch Group of Florida for a hundred bucks or so because they believe the key to the City’s revitalization lies in the interests of developers from Florida or Ohio or Troy, Michigan. The Ypsilanti Housing Commission turned out a large enough audience for that April 6th meeting that the venue had to be changed. A fabulous presentation and testimonials from the audience prompted City Council to table Resolution 2005-55 that would have disapproved of any YHC purchase, lease, agreement, or option regarding the apartments.

Later during an April 25th closed door session, City Council issued a list of twenty-five conditions that the YHC had to meet in order to purchase the property. The deal-breaker being the the YHC had to make the apartments into condos within five years — a stipulation that was impossible to meet based on the conditions set forth by YHC’s investors. No one would send me this list, but the Mayor was speaking to the press about it, so it couldn’t have been too secretive. Regardless, that’s a bit of information that sounds interesting.

The YHC then issued a memoranda of understanding to Council and pleaded that an agreement between the two parties be hammered out so they could close on the property by May 20th.

Of the few people willing to speak to me, I was assured by one that the contract between the City Council and YHC was non-binding and meaningless to HUD, and the property would close as scheduled.

The 20th comes and goes, and the YHC doesn’t close on the property. All last week there is some last-minute negotiating between the two parties, and a deal is struck. The problem is that the HUD deadline has passed and they don’t care about any new agreement. It’s too late. The ball has been dropped. The pooch has been screwed.

Ultimately, HUD sold the property to Dakko of Queens, NY. In the end, the City lost, the YHC lost, and most importantly, the residents of Parkview Apartments lost because who knows if only the minimum repairs will be made or if Dakko plans to do as in-depth of a job as the YHC had planned to do.

Where this gets interestin is in the second-hand analysis of what happened. The most comic, ironic, tragic, or pathetic thing in all of this the City and the YHC are basically the same people. The YHC is made up of people appointed by the City. It’s like the local version of Ted Williams’ children fighting over his frozen head. The second most -ic thing in all of this is that there is a perfect scapegoat already in place — the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Even though HUD set a firm deadline of the 20th that everyone missed, the official line from City officials is going to be that everyone came to an agreement, but HUD rejected it anyway. Don’t blame us [City Council], we tried.

I am not in the speculating business and am a bit terrified to go much further with this, but in this game of chicken, what was City Council hoping to get out of this? There were probably some very good reasons to issue this list of 25 conditions, but why did everyone involved wait until after the deadline to get serious about resolving them? What were these compromises that led to an agreement? They should be pretty serious to derail a project as big as this.

Finally, why couldn’t Mark Felt live closer to me?

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