Developer Of Apartments At Main And Market Wants Tax Freeze That Was Given To Prior Developer 6 Years Ago

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Developer John Wise is asking for a PILOT tax abatement for a mixed-use project at Main and Market that is nearing completion - based on a prior developer getting a PILOT at the same site in 2010.

The city's Health Education and Housing Facilities Board is set to discuss the request on Wednesday.

Attorney Susie Lodico said, "Our client was aware of the PILOT approval and relied upon the signed resolution in going forward with the construction and development of this project, which has been done at a substantial cost to our client."

Citizen advocate Helen Burns Sharp, who opposes the request, said developer John Wise started out as Main Street Apartments LLC, then switched to the name of the group that got the PILOT six years ago - Mission Partners LLC.

She said developers Gavin Thomas and Eric Cummings had planned a project that called for 48 units of market rate housing above ground floor retail. They said there would be 75 parking spaces; 48 for residents in an underground parking garage; 27 for commercial customers at the rear of the building. This project was never built.

She said, "Mission Partners LLC dissolved in 2012. The River City Company got back in the ownership loop. Developer John Wise, as Main Street Apartments LLC, bought the land from River City in 2013. During the next two years, Mr. Wise constructed a mixed-use complex on the site, including 63 apartments on the upper floors. 

"Developer Wise became the new face of Mission Partners LLC on April 22, 2016. His Main Street Apartments LLC merged with Mission Partners LLC, which re-activated in December of 2015.

"At the board meeting, developer Wise and attorney Gary Patrick may try to convince the bond board that it was 'their' project that was approved in 2010, and that its approval has not lapsed even though the PILOT and lease agreements apparently have never been executed;the title to the property was never transferred to the bond board from Mission Properties; the process for PILOT approval has changed and now requires City Council and County Commission approval, and the project has changed in at least one fundamental aspect: parking."

She added, "It is important for members of the public to speak out against this ploy for the developer to get a $2 million tax break. Should taxpayers subsidize a project that is already built? Clearly this project fails the "but/for" test - but for the subsidy, the project would not happen. In addition, why should our officials waive future tax revenues that could be directed to high priority community needs in order to subsidize a project that will make parking considerably worse for Southside residents and business?  Who is looking out for the public interest?"

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