Market House Deal Beginning To Smell Fishy

| December 4, 2010
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At one point in time, City Hall and Lehr Jackson, developer of the newest rendition of the Market House, envisioned an Annapolis Market House similar to Seattle’s Pikes Market complete with fish mongers tossing fish from one side to the other.

Well, it seems that the fish may have arrived a bit early.

Late last week, we heard that the administration was planning on revealing the details of the new Market House at Monday’s City Council meeting. At that time, we did not realize that the City Council had not been advised by the Mayor who has held all details relating to the Market House close to his vest. We became slightly suspicious when an email was sent advising that the Mayor and all City Directors would not be available on Friday.

And today, The Capital reveals exactly how deep in the shadows our elected City Council has been kept as the Mayor seemingly cuts his own deal with Lehr Jackson. For instance:

  1. The lease has apparently been prepared and is ready for the Council to approve it sight unseen.
  2. The City Council is expected to approve zoning changes to appease Lehr Jackson without knowing exactly what they are.
  3. Ward 6 Alderman Kenny Kirby seems to be in the know. Could this be related to the recent approval of a 2am liquor license for Castlebay? Has Cohen struck another deal with an Alderman to assure passage of a bill? Remember, the repeal of the 2am license resolution was supposed to be “the first thing” Josh Cohen was to do as Mayor–or so he campaigned.
  4. Jackson is apparently not returning phone calls.
  5. City Hall has so far refused to provide documents requested by The Capital in defiance of State law.
  6. The Chairman of the Economics Committee, Fred Paone (R-Ward 2) has purposely been kept in the dark.
  7. The City has hired a $500/hour law firm who has yet to advise the City Council of their recommendations. Perhaps they have advised the Mayor.
  8. Many on the Council were unaware of the $1,000 per month that the City is paying Lehr Jackson as a “fee” to come up with the details of this project. Mind you, that Lehr Jackson can walk away from this at any given point. The City is also an anomaly–how many businesses start up by asking their prospective landlord for money to develop their business plan? And get it? One might think that the expertise of Karen Hardwick, City Attorney, might have been tapped here. But then again, her experience, according to her resume, tends to be mostly on the developer side of things.
  9. The Mayor has admitted that the market House will operate at a loss. No figure was tagged to that loss.

The last administration seemed to go down this same path and we all know how that turned out. This whole deal is beginning to really smell.

The Mayor campaigned on an open and transparent administration but has provided the exact opposite in his first year in office. There have been more closed meetings than any other administration. There have been reports about impromptu council meetings taking place in (conveniently enough) Castlebay. When the mayor was trying to get his budget passed, a deal was struck with Alderman Silverman to assure his vote–the Alderman would get the support of the Mayor to abandon his constituents for 5 months if he voted for the Mayor’s budget.

Even Alderman Kirby was working behind the scenes as was evidenced by some recent public postings on his Facebook page:

All of this does not speak well for the transparency this Administration promised. The Citizens of Annapolis elected their representatives to represent them–not the special interests of developers and donors. But then again, maybe the citizens should have been a little more cautious at the polls. After all this is the way it has always been done. The Council and administration have been playing this game for a long time (Cohen, Israel, Paone, Arnett, Hoyle, Finlayson) and it certainly did not take Kirby and Silverman long to learn the game. The jury is still out on Pfeiffer.

What are your thoughts? Please take the poll and leave a comment below.

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  • Fred Shubbie®©™

    I regret saying this but the people of annapolis are too stupid and lacking in sophistication to take Cohen to task and remove him from office. This megalomaniacal fool is out of control and not very bright, but clearly brighter than the ‘corporation” he is in control of. Maybe Annapolis deserves what they get for not challenging his installation after he lost the election to Zina. When is enough enough Annapolis ?

    • Chuck Weikel

      Larry, really, Josh a meglomanic?

      He may be a lot of things, but not that.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Unfortunately, “The Observer” undercuts his or her own argument with lack of facts and questionable jumped to conclusions. Just a few:

    – Josh Cohen campaigned , and followed through on, a pledge to OPPOSE 2 am licenses. (Clearly a foolish pledge in light of 2 ams sailing through the council.)

    – The Mayor holds Friday lunches with council members at varying restaurants around town. He avoids quorum issues and open meeting laws by keep the number of Aldermen in attendance under the requiement. It was one Friday lunch that occured at Castlebay about 2 months ago. (Although these lunches are certainly not ‘secret’, I doubt The Observer would be invited.)

    – ‘Cutting deals’ with Aldermen is the only way to get something passed. Its the way a legislative body works in a democracy. The Mayor has only one vote.

    – The law allows certain sensitive documents, such as contract negotiations or personnel files, not be made publicly availabe even to a FOIA request. Clearly, certain aspects of the Markethouse negostiations are sensitive and should remain confidential, no matter how hard The Observer or The Capital should disagree. They are welcome to take it to court and let a judge decide.

    – Are we really to believe, in 2010, that something nefarious should be made of an Alderman using his Facebook page to communicate to another Alderman?

    The Observer needs to do some fact and reasonableness checking before he or she goes to twon on others. It undercuts what might be, perhaps, some valid points.

    As a downtown resident that lives 200 yards from the Markethouse, I’m frustrated with all the people who ‘care so much’ about it they just have to get involved. I implore you to find someplace else for your angst. Perhaps a new stop sign in your neighborhood. Or go fight each other over your property lines, as one local blogger famously did.

    But, please, you’ve had your say. Now stay out of my neighborhood and let Mayor Cohen do his job!

    • B. Frankel

      Francis–chill out. Everyone is entitle to their opinion. That is what this is isn’t it? Opinion?

  • Fred Shubbie

    “As a downtown resident that lives 200 yards from the Markethouse, I’m frustrated with all the people who ‘care so much’ about it they just have to get involved”

    It is a shame you are forced to love so close to the Market House, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything . Are you suggesting your opinion counts more and is more valid ?

  • Chuck Weikel

    Larry:

    Yes. Of course. We who live in the Historic Core SHOULD have a the largest voice at the table. It is our neighborhood, not theirs.

    You live the same distance from the Markethouse. You want to have the same voice as someone from, say, Annapolis Walk or, heaven forbid, Eastport?

    Come on Larr!

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Chuck, out of curiosity, what about the those who own commercial property in the “Historic Core” and pay taxes as well–do you feel they are entitled to a large (or depending on the tax revenue they provide, the largest)voice at the table?

  • Fred Shubbie

    Susan, it’s not your neighborhood you live in a mixed zoning city, The city you live in hasfrivouolus boutiques and market house tenants, and if it is a ‘neighborhood’ then they are your neighbors and all of the tourists are friends of your neighbors. I certaily would not want to love their as it is by nature unpleasant to be around so many drunks and so many parking restrictions. abd Sue, Dick Israel only gets one vote,

  • Chuck Weikel

    John:

    People with tangible and intangible stakes in things should get a bigger voice than those with just intangible (e.g., residents of Admiral Heights) or tenous (e.g., the tourists) stakes. We have to literally live next door to all this stuff being micro-managed in the Historic District, often times by outsiders.

    The balance between businesses and true downtown residents (note: NOT everyone in Ward One) is a delicate one. But my belief is that, in almost all cases, their interests are aligned.

    Most of my net worth is tied up in my house. One day I will sell it. When I do I want to most vibrant and attractive downtown possible so I can demand the highest price possible. This means profitable, interesting businesses.

    Some people want to place additional restrictions on business operations, continue to screw around with the design of the Markethouse or make crazy demands (like when Louise Hammond tried to regulate the foods products people must sell to be a tenant!). This creates a less-than-optimum outcome, right?

    So, of course, the downtown businesses should have a big say. And they have had it. The problem is, unless they are like Mike Ashford, they don’t live downtown and cannot vote. But they do have lobbying organizations (ABA, etc) and are being given more power through this new economic development corporation. And their opinions vary depending upon who you talk to and the business they are in.

    • Burren47

      Chuck,

      The ABA is all but defunct and, even it’s hayday, wielded no political clout. And the economic development corporation isn’t happening. We all know it.

    • burren47

      Chuck…In rereading your comment, it struck me how ridiculous it actually is. You believe you should have more of a voice in the Market House because of your vicinity? Measured in yards? That is eighteen kinds of ludicrous. So is there a system set up with concentric circles of influence? Last I checked (and I haven’t) I pay the same city taxes that you pay. Which means that my financial share of the Market House debacle is the same as yours. So how do you divide up the myriad projects in town as to who has more of a say in their outcomes? And make no mistake about this…Mayor Moyer and her administration bungled this project on a stupendous level. Let’s not pretend it was years in the making. It was sheer incompetence, wrapped in ego, and smothered in stupid-sauce.

  • http://kingofgeorge.blogspot.com/ King of George

    All will be well as Subaltern Smith is overseeing the pesky details for the family and taxing the locals for all his time and that of other government workers, barristers & various architectural and development consultants. It is not costing the court a dime. Our desire has always been and continues to be to maximize our royal holdings through ground rents.

    Anne Arundel gives her best,

    Warm Regards,

    Your King

  • Bob McWilliams

    Chuck:

    The $5 or $6 million our money City government has already completely wasted on the Market House seems pretty tangible to me.

    Given the recent history of the Market House, City Government owes “all” taxpayers in Annapolis a clear, transparent, and thouroughly vetted path regarding future operations.

    With all the money that’s gone down the drain, it’s not unreasonable for people to be suspect of how this is being handled.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Bob:

    Huh?? $5 or $6 million?

    I’ll buy it if you can subtantiate it.

    So show me $5 or $6 mm in hard costs. Really. Line item it out. Right here.

    Not opportunity costs or non cash things. You are in business, so you understand this.

    Simply put, I support Mayor Cohen in his attempt to get this on track and put to bed. All you Republicans Eastporters should stay over there and kibbitz about your neighbor’s back yards.

  • Bob McWilliams

    Chuck:

    Not a problem. In the court settlement, the City paid Site Realty, $2,500,000. The City also paid other tenants at the Market House $295,000. You’re already at almost $3 million, before you start to add in:

    1) Legal costs on negotiating the Site Realty lease
    2) Legal costs for the court battle with Site Realty and other Market House tenants
    3) Temporary HVAC ($10,000/month for years)
    4) Cost for 1st Market House renovation (a million or so?)
    5) Cost for 2nd Market House renovation (the HVAC alone is expected to be $500,000+; we’re still waiting to hear what GTM wants the City to pay for on top of that; all toll, it’ll easily be another million.
    6) Legal cost to negotiate GTM lease at $500/hour
    7) Payment to GTM for making a proposal $10,000/month
    8) Years of lost rental income as the Market House sits empty.

    If you add it all up, there’s no doubt the City has blown somewhere north of $5 million on the Market House. On wasted renovation expenses and payments to Site/Tenants
    alone, you’re already almost $4 million. No one wants to provide a number on the legal bill, but I’m sure it’s astronomical.

    And, I guess I’d disagree with you about the opportunity costs. The failure to generate revenue from this prime retail location represents a sizable and legitimate economic loss to the City’s taxpayers.

    The only real intangible number is the loss to the City’s reputation and the negative halo effect of the Market House fiasco on other downtown businesses.

  • Bob McWilliams

    One other thing Chuck. I believe that a fair amount of the money that was wasted on the Market House came out of Eastport tax revenues, taxes paid by Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. So, your snide attempt to politicize an undeniable failure by City government to manage this property doesn’t help the debate.

    I’m sure that regardless of political affiliation, all Annapolitans hope that the Market House will be successful.

  • Chuck Weikel

    My comments in CAPS:
    ===================
    Not a problem. In the court settlement, the City paid Site Realty, $2,500,000. The City also paid other tenants at the Market House $295,000. You’re already at almost $3 million, before you start to add in:

    OK. YOU ARE FORGETTING THE TIME VALUE OF MONEY. BUT NEVER MIND… I’LL GIVE YOU $2.5 MM BUT NOT PAYMENTS TO TENANTS AT $295K. IT WAS CLOSER TO $125K.

    1) Legal costs on negotiating the Site Realty lease

    THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN LEGAL COSTS TO NEGOTIATE WITH ANYONE. NOT ALLOWED.

    2) Legal costs for the court battle with Site Realty and other Market House tenants

    THE LITIGATION WAS HANDLED BY THE CITY ATTORNEY. IT’S NOT LIKE YOU LAID HIM OFF IF THERE WASN’T THIS SUIT. NOT ALLOWED.

    3) Temporary HVAC ($10,000/month for years)

    YEARS? HA! 18 MONTHS. AND THE PRICE WAS NO WHERE NEAR $10K A MONTH. MORE LIKE $2K. SO OI’LL GIVE YOU $36K.

    4) Cost for 1st Market House renovation (a million or so?)

    THE ‘RENOVATION’ YOU REFER TO WHERE MANDATORY STRUCTURAL IMPROVEMENTS FOR CODE AND SAFETY REASONS. THE ONLY WAY AROUND THESE WOULD HAVE BEEN TO TEAR THE STRUCTURE DOWN. ARE YOU ADVOCATING THAT? NOT ALLOWED.

    5) Cost for 2nd Market House renovation (the HVAC alone is expected to be $500,000+; we’re still waiting to hear what GTM wants the City to pay for on top of that; all toll, it’ll easily be another million.

    GRANTED, THERE WILL BE ADDITIONAL COSTS – THEY ARE CALLED ‘BUILD OUT COSTS’ FOR THE NEW TENANTS. BUT IT SHOULDN’T BE ANYWHERE NEAR $500K. PLUS PARTS OF IT WILL BE SHARE WITH TENANTS (E.G., COOKING EQUIPMENT, ETC…). I’LL GIVE YOU $100 K FOR THIS. MAYBE.

    6) Legal cost to negotiate GTM lease at $500/hour

    GRANTED, THIS IS A BIT ABSURD. SO, MAYBE, $25 K IN ALL?

    7) Payment to GTM for making a proposal $10,000/month

    NO THEY ARE CONSULTING FEES SINCE DOUG SMITH AND THE CITY REFUSED TO PARTNER WITH THEM ON THE PROJECT. SO, MAYBE, $40K.

    8) Years of lost rental income as the Market House sits empty.

    OPPORTUNITY COST. NOT ALLOWED.

    If you add it all up, there’s no doubt the City has blown somewhere north of $5 million on the Market House.

    ERR, MORE LIKE $2.826 MM. THE VAST MAJORITY OF THAT WAS FOR THE SETTLEMENT. EXCLUDING THAT, SO ITS REALLY ONLY $326k.

    And, I guess I’d disagree with you about the opportunity costs. The failure to generate revenue from this prime retail location represents a sizable and legitimate economic loss to the City’s taxpayers.

    OK. TRY TO GET A JUDGE TO AGREE WITH THAT.

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      One point brought up in the column is the payment of at least $600K (yes that was the number floated by City Hall) for renovations to the Market House to appease Lehr-Jackson. Granted it is an unusual situation with the City owning the structure, but it seems more or less that L-J is going to be the practical (if not legal) owner of the building going forward. Selecting tenants, deciding the mix, maintenance, etc.

      A landlord will commit to a tenant fit out when there is a signed lease for a period of time and it make sense to do it. But, we are paying L-J a $10,000 per month fee to essentially get his business plan in order. And then we are going to pay another $600K to build it the way he likes it. And Kirby says that we are able to get out quick if needed. If L-J is taking over the venture long term, he should have the responsibility for the renovations and fit outs. The Mayor already said it would be operated at a loss. So before the first shovel hits the ground, we are already $640K in the hole. And you can expect the renovations to exceed estimates. No one that does business with a municipality comes in under budget.

      I do agree that it is far beyond time to get this ball rolling. I also agree that L-J is likely the best outfit to handle it–certainly the best of those who expressed an interest. I think the whole issue really is the seeming lack of transparency. There may be legitimate reasons for it. It may indeed be transparent, but the City has done a poor job communicating it.

      Right now, the City is fractured and many are not trusting of the local government. Some will point to the last administration. Some will point to the budget shenanigans. Some will point to the hiring of cronies. Some will point to the Keystone Kops Kaper of the missing money from the safe. The breakdown in snow removal. The breakdown of the transit system. The emergency $10M line of credit The questionable hiring of department heads without vetting. And one cannot blame people for being cautious. So, when it comes out that the Aldermen have been kept in the dark, it looks suspicious It may not be nefarious, but it looks that way. And now, the City is asking for public testimony on a document that I learned today has not been prepared yet. How valuable or worthwhile is any of this testimony. The City might as well say “your input is a moot point, we will do it our way.”

      • Chuck Weikel

        John:

        Is it really that bad? Fractured city .. no trust. Maybe for the 200 or so people who read blogs, get involved, etc…

        The vast majority (95% plus) really don’t give a hoot about all the little stuff that goes on in City Hall. Is that a problem? — maybe. But last time I checked there was a huge recession on putting bread on the table seems a hell of a lot more important to most people than who we blame for what at 160 DoG.

        I think we can debate numbers all day. (The build out numbers you quote include city and GTM expenses, some of which will be financed by GTM and others won’t hit for years.) Yet, perhaps, the numbers may never show – we are our own worst enemy.

        Some people wanted a weak mayor system, including many correspondents to this blog. Well, Josh Cohen gave it to you. He is now strangled by an uncooperative city council and has deferred decision making on the Market House to Doug Smith (apparently, his only duty). So, instead of blaming the mayor you can blame the council and the bureaucrats. Big improvement, right?

        I hear that there is going to be HEAT tonight at council. Especially on the so-called undisclosed payments to GMT. Quite frankly, I don’t think give the circumstances consulting payments to keep GMT interested are out of hand (track record of the city, super politicization of everything in Annapolis, meddling by everybody). But how the money is being removed from the budget without a budget amendment may be an issue. I guess we’ll see tonight.

        Nevertheless, the council should back off and let Doug and Josh do their jobs. I say, stop the noise and let them have their chance. What’s the worst that could happen?

        • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

          I agree wholeheartedly that very few give a rat’s ass and that is indeed a shame. I am not sure (need to go look at notes) but I thought the $600K was the close in contribution of the City to the effort–not any long term or shared costs.

          As to the payments–while I disagree with them, I was aware of them and the Capital reported on them before. So I am not sure how the aldermen can claim ignorance. And based on the track record of the City, I can see L-J asking for the payments, but really now. We are paying him the $10K a month PLUS expenses and he can walk away scott free whenever he wants. The $10K as I understood it was for him to develop the plan and vision. Usually people have that in hand and if they are going to be reaping the benefits (rents, royalties, etc) most people would assume that cost on their own. I could understand it if the City was considering other developers, but they are not–L-J is and has been the exclusive developer for this project.

          Will be interesting to see what happens tonight.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Bob:

    Eastport tax revenues? Is this why your Alderman wants to secede?

    As a citizen, you have been given a voice. By my count this has been going on for 10 years now – started by a committee formed by Dean Johnson (remember him?). And, Bob, you don’t seem to have kept quiet during this time.

    And, yes, I live next to the blasted thing. So my voice IS more important than yours.

    Eastporters, really!

    Now. End the debate. Let’s all get onboard with Mayor Cohen and get this thing done.

  • http://kingofgeorge.blogspot.com/ King of George

    The King has been patient with his ruffian colonists and agrees the building needs to soon be productive to produce revenue for the Royal Treasury. A couple of hundred thousand here or there is normal breakage. We expect some fumbling in the New World as you are not experienced with much of anything.

  • Bob McWilliams

    Nice try Chuck:

    Actually it was $295m beyond the $2,500m to Site realty. I wrote a column on it at the time and had the figures confirmed by the City. The City also said the temporary HVAC was running $10m/month. Perhaps you can tell me where you rent and operate and industrial HVAC system for $2,000 a month. The fuel cost alone was probably more than $2,000/month. The polution that diesel behemoth belched out completely offset all the trees Mayor Moyer planted. We probably owe a fortune in carbon credits just to get back to even.

    As for legal expenses, apparently you haven’t kept up with the enormous “contract legal services” paid by the City, or the additional $120,000 just approved for “another” attorney. Remember when Paul Goetzke did that pretty much by himself? But, that was before the Moyer administration got us into perpetual legal trouble. That’s probably also why we now have 4 or 5 PIO’s and a television station, instead of just Roskelley – there’s a lot of explainin’ to do when your throwing millions down the toilet and getting sued 19 ways to Sunday.

    If you think the 2nd Renovation is only going to cost $100,000, you’d better get ready for hot summers and cold winters at the Market House, because Cohen’s administration says the HVAC alone will clock in at $500,000. Once you decorate the liquor store and produce a few more power point presentations, it’ll be twice that.

    As for opportunity costs? How about you give me a 4 year lease on your house for $100/month. Then, at the end of that term, you tell me if it cost you anything. Give me a break Chuck, you’re smarter than that. Just because you say opportunity costs aren’t allowed, doesn’t make them disappear. That’s a real expense.

    Your estimation of 2.826mm simply isn’t supported by the facts or the City’s own figures. Besides, whether it’s $4, $5, or $6 million doesn’t really matter. By any estimation, it’s a boat load of money for a town of only 36,000 people, and there’s absolutely nothing to show for it.

    As for Dean Johnson; geesh, you’re really stretching for it here. The Market House fiasco was Moyer’s – lock, stock and barrel. Trying to suggest it was Johnson’s is utter nonsense.

    I’m sure everyone wants to get on board, and get this thing done. But this time, they want it done right. I don’t blame people one bit for demanding the utmost in transparency and responding to the City or GTM with a high degree of skepticism.

    The public hasn’t yet seen the “plan” or the “deal” and you want to “end the debate”.

    Sorry Charlie, the Annapolis taxpayer isn’t signing up for another suicide mission. It’s the Mayor’s responsibility to put a recommendation on the table for everyone to see. That’s not the end of the debate; that’s the begining.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Bob:

    Yawn…

    Just stay out of my backyard. Go complain about the noise at Mears or the drunks coming out of Davis’. Those are real problems, right? We don’t need anymore complaining about downtown by Eastporters..

    The Markethouse needs to get fixed. And Josh will fix it for us.

  • Bob McWilliams

    Chuck:

    Your response speaks to the quality or your argument.

    The problem isn’t in the bars or the Market House; it’s at 160 Duke, and I for one am not about to go on blind faith given that organization’s track record.

    Josh is only one vote. He’ll need to make a convincing case, if he’s going to fix anything.

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Bob–yes Josh is one vote, but you need to remember the deck is stacked in his favor. Classie, Dick, Kenny and usually Sheila vote along with him. Not sure if Silverman has deserted departed yet, but getting that majority is not a difficult task.

  • Bob McWilliams

    John, even though Classie, Dick and Sheila are usually reliable votes, those Ward One folk are going to hold Dick to task and Sheila and Classie know that if another couple million get blown on the Market House, it’ll mean more layoffs at City Hall. So, they’re going to want assurances this won’t become another money pit. As for Kenny, I’ve been pleased by how he would ask straightforward questions about issues before the council. He would cut to the chase, instead of playing politics. But lately, it seems like he’s got some other agenda going. His push for 2am and now cheerleading for GTM just isn’t the same Kirby that started his council career with good common sense questions.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Bob — so what is your plan for the Markethouse? You seem to do well us telling us all how bad our plans are.

    John — Wow. Are talking about the same city council.

    “Deck stacked in his favor”?
    – 2 ams. Josh fought, council enacted.
    – Doug Smith. Josh tried to keep, council fired.
    – Budget. Josh backed down on second and third round of firings.

    I defy someone to state one thing Josh got done that was his idea or initiative.

    Josh has been whip sawed by a council that has all the power and is calling the shots. In the campaign, he said he wanted a strong city manager. What he got was that along with a council that is running the city, not the mayor.

    Unfortunately, Josh has allowed himself to be painted into the corner as the weakest mayor this city has had in a long time (at least people liked Al Hopkins).

    We need to stand behind Josh in his fights with the council and the bureaucracy! Give him back his power he so rightly deserves.

    E Pluribus Joshum

  • Bob McWilliams

    Chuck:

    Actually, I liked how the Market House was before Mayor Moyer started fixing it. It seems like most people feel the same. Bring back the Big Cheese, some Oyster shuckers and call it good.

    GTM may indeed have a good plan, but other than generalities in a power point presentation, we lack the specifics necessary to make a judgement. When Cohen brings forward a recommended Lease, 5 year P&L, detailed Marketing Plan and a tight Capital expenditure estimate, it will be possible to formulate some opinions.

    Only then, will it be possible to “begin” the debate.

  • http://kingofgeorge.blogspot.com/ King of George

    My subjects squabble like children.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Bob:

    A series of citizen committees, starting under Dean Johnson, disagreed with you. They might not have been right, but they wanted the city out of the property management business. The city council concurred and the various mayors, including Josh, have tried to meet the requests of all these citizen and business and pressure groups.

    Now we have a camel.

    And you cannot get the horses back in the barn. (btw – the Big Cheese is still there, just 100′ feet away. So you can still get your $35 / lb cheese needs met in just in 30 steps.)

    So your proposal simply doesn’t fly.

    And, by the way Mr. Dreamer, who do you propose own the Markethouse? Manage it? And oversees the management?

    And how should fees be set? And who approves tenants? And, do you propose they what can be sold is regulated? (e.g., no t-shirts, no booze, must sell fresh foods, etc…. Go ask Louise Hammond about that!).

    And what about the agreement with the original family that restricted its use over 100 years ago? Should we just blow the terms of that agreement off on account of time?

    Well, Pollyanna, the real world isn’t so straight forward, is it?

    Just get behind Josh and get this over with.

  • Fred Shubbie®™©

    Annapolis Patch said Josh backed out of his special meeting topics. Is this true ? The Three Stooges all wrapped up in one stooge.

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Phill McGowan told me today that the documents were still being worked on (this was noon-ish) and they all “hoped” they would be ready by 5pm. I guess they weren’t so it has been tabled. Which will push it all back to the 20th for a first reader and then likely approval in January–which likely will give GTM some more time as he stipulated that he haad to be in by January in order to get it done

  • Bob McWilliams

    The Market House was left to the City under the conditions that it be operated as a Market House, not a bank or a wine bar.

    In its old form, where it incorporated non-franchise food, but eateries that were of local flavor and origin, it seemed to do quite well. It served the tourists by giving them a taste of Annapolis, and it served the locals as a homegrown place for a reasonably priced meal.

    Where it went off the rails was when Moyer got stars in her eyes with Dean & DeLuca and the subsequent administrative incompetence that occured by dumping the current tenants “before” D&D has signed on the bottom line.

    If something aint broke don’t fix it. That’s not Pollyannish; it’s just common sense.

    Someone like Bonder probably would have kept it simple by just returning to the old format. But, once again, City Hall may have stars in its eyes, thinking that the Market House is going to become some kind of Faneuil Hall.

    Maybe GTM can indeed find the right mix without making it a money pit. We won’t know until we see some real facts and figures. However, just like D&D, the City is putting all it’s eggs in one basket, even to the point that they’re paying GTM to make a proposal – that alone appropriately raises some eyebrows.

    I’ll reserve judgement until we see what they’ve got. Maybe it’ll be a smashing success. Hoping for that is something we can all agree on.

  • Fred Shubbie

    Pretty sloppy work . Phil might as well said the town dog wandered into Josh’s office and ate the documents. That would be just as believable given the past goofs.

  • Chuck Weikel

    In the election of 2005. Late in the evening, standing in the middle of a dark Main Street, with Ellen Moyer, She and I were outside Castlebay and tired from adebate that night. A couple beers (or wine in Ellen’s case) picked us up.

    Looking down at the bottom of Main Street, out of view, was the Markethouse. It was a constant refrain during the election. Louise Hammond and Sheila Tolliver both tried to tar her with it. Gil Renault whined about it. Naturally, it was on our minds. So it came up.

    “That f—– building. I’m going to lose this election. Over that?!”

    She didn’t. Most citizens could see beyond the politics and demondization of the moment.

    Perhaps it is no coincidence that next to the Markethouse rests the “Toleration Stone”. Build in 1908 to be part of a larger “Toleration Fountain” and to be placed in the circle. The citizen group tasked with the project could never agree on the placement or design of the fountain. As a result, it was never built. And, we’re told, the citizens committee continued to meet into the 1930s.

    But we have a wonderful stone to remind us of the foibles of Annapolitans.

    Can we recognize the nearly ten year fiasco of the Markethouse is not the failure of one individual or even one group? That many of the core issues that have prevented forward movement are the result of our own cravings. To have our mark, to have our say?

    And to only do it our way?

  • Bob McWilliams

    What a touching scene; almost brought a tear to my eye. I guess the next time our City blows millions through sheer incompetence, we’ll all just have to learn to be more tolerant.

  • http://www.annapolis.gov Phill McGowan

    There is a false perception fostered by some in the media, unfortunately, that any deal on the Market House will be passed without sufficient review by the City Council and the public. That impression is false, and the feeding of it by this publication is irresponsible.

    The specific details of the Market House agreement have not been presented to council members or the public because the lease remains under negotiation. The Mayor’s original intent was to submit the master lease to the council on Monday. But while an agreement in principle has been reached on the lease, the specifics still need to be sorted out by attorneys representing the City and Gone to Market LLC. So the lease will presented to the council and the public by Monday, Dec. 13.

    The mayor has had conversations with several of the council members to determine their positions on key provisions, such as “termination for convenience.” I encourage the columnist and the publisher of this publication to call the members of the council to verify that point.

    DLA Piper is advising the administration on the lease, because it is the administration that is negotiating the lease. That’s typical of how municipal governments use outside counsel for lease negotiations. Those who are familiar of this relationship understand that there’s nothing suspicious about it.

    The predevelopment agreement between the City and Gone to Market LLC was published on Nov. 18 on the City website. Here is the link: http://www.annapolis.gov/Government/Reports/MHPreDevAgreement.pdf This predevelopment agreement was anticipated as part of the Memorandum of Understanding that the Mayor signed with Gone to Market, after first presenting it publicly to the Economic Matters Committee and inviting the alderpersons’ input. The predevelopment agreement is necessary to enable the City to move forward with planning, design, architectural renderings, engineering, and permit approvals during this time period that the administration and City Council are working on the lease. Please know that as part of the agreement, the City owns all work products, such as sketches and renderings.

    The Mayor has been open and transparent about the negotiations over the Market House. He held a public meeting on Sept. 16 to present the City’s vision for what a lease should entail. Among the subjects discussed: 1) the City’s desire perform a major renovation of the Market House (a position that is the consensus of the majority of the City Council) and 2) the City’s desire to allow for beer and wine to be served there. More public meetings were held Nov. 8 and 15 before the Economic Matters Committee and at the Market House. Council members and the public were invited to view renderings and raise questions with Gone to Market and the City. The City Hall meetings on those nights were broadcast live by City TV and are available online for your review. In addition, a copy of the memorandum of understanding between the City and the Gone to Market is available online. I haven’t begun mentioning the detailed media coverage. The negotiations themselves have been held, as they should, behind closed doors, but there has been ample opportunity to follow the progress of those talks.

    Lastly, there was no deal struck between the Mayor and Alderman Silverman as falsely alleged by Trudy McFall. Remember that Ms. McFall not only opposed the Mayor during last year’s primary election, but after placing third she then opposed the Mayor during the General Election as well. Her signature issue was the Council/Manager form of government, which failed to resonate with the voters and which a majority of the City Council similarly opposed. While her frustration is understandable, it is irresponsible for a media outlet to simply accept and repeat as factual her conspiracy theory that has no basis in truth and has been flatly denied by the two persons involved, Mayor Cohen and Alderman Silverman.

    Phill McGowan
    Public Information Officer
    City of Annapolis

  • Bob McWilliams

    Phil:

    Thanks for the update, but the rubber doesn’t really meet the road until the Mayor lays it all out there on 12/13, and 12/20 isn’t such a hot time to be asking for public comment. It’s too bad such an inportant issue of great public interest is being run througyh the Council during the weeks of Christmas and New Years.

  • Fred Shubbie®™©

    Phill you are so naive and so ridiculous. The only reason this is taking so long is that in order to make a bonus this year whomever is handling the legal stuff at DLA piper has to maximize their billable hours in order to get a bonus for the year. Don’t be fooled people, this is not a complex legal issue, it’s a vehicle to suck money from the blood of the citizens. Muh ado ’bout nuffin’ .

  • Fred Shubbie®™©

    Phill you are so naive and so ridiculous. The only reason this is taking so long is that in order to make a bonus this year whomever is handling the legal stuff at DLA piper has to maximize their billable hours in order to get a bonus for the year. Don’t be fooled people, this is not a complex legal issue, it’s a vehicle to suck money from the blood of the citizens. Much ado ’bout nuffin’ .

  • Chuck Weikel

    Bob and Larry Scott (Fred) need to get out of the way so this thing can get done.

    Support Josh.

  • Bob McWilliams

    Chuck:

    In that Cohen has yet to make a proposal, there’s really nothing of substance to support.

    Do you often find yourself supporting something, before you know what it is?

    Most MBA’s know enough to look before they leap when it comes to evaluating a business venture.

    Your comments remind me of Pelosi telling us to pass the Health Care Bill, so we can find out what’s in it. I guess you advocate the same sort of nonsense with respect to the Market House.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Bob:

    The Cohen plan is the MOU and to accept the GTM design plan.

    I heart is a flutter with your concern for my neighborhood! So what is your considered opinion of:
    - The proposed Jimmy Johns
    - The 7-11
    - Riordans re-do and 2 am request
    - Dick Israel’s back door attempt to seize a private dock for the city
    - Joes Crab Shack at Fawcetts

    I hope you have equally well developed agruments on all of these latent issues.

    And, certainly, your behavior has given me the right to spout off on your neighborhood. Who didn’t take their trash in or dogs let free.

    Where exactly do you live? Severna Park?

  • Bob McWilliams

    Going on an MOU instead of a well thought out and vetted “Contract”, “Written Marketing Plan” and “Estimated 5 Year P&L’” is how Moyer flushed $5,000,000 the first time around.

    By the way, I live in Eastport. Since you know that, why would you suggest I live in Severna Park. Is it just an attempt to discredit my argument, since you are apparently unable to provide any of your own? Wasn’t it you who tried the same thing with Foer?

    I’d suggest you try debating the issue, instead of making false claims about where people live.

  • Chuck Weikel

    I don’t know where you live. Nor have I ever met you. But I do know one thing for sure: you don’t live downtown.

    You hypocrisy is aburd. You are simply using the Markethouse as a political football to beat up on your enemies. If you cared, why don’t you answer the questions on the other issues that are as large, if not larger, for our quality of life – the 7-11, 2 ams for Osteria and others, Riordans, Dicks legislation to take away private dock property, Fawcetts, the residential conversion on Cornhill?

    You don’t care because it doesn’t fit into your story line. You want to fight the Markethouse to the last Ward Oner.

    Unfortunately, my friend Paul created his own issues. In his testimony in front of the council he first stated he lived on Boucher, then would not state where he lived, then stated he lived on a street in Hunt Meadow and now is saying he lives on Boucher again.

    I really don’t care where he lives as long as he doesn’t pass himself off as a downtowner or an Annapolitan in City policy matters – when in fact he may not be.

    So where in Eastport do you live? I want to register some complaints with the City about YOUR neighborhood.

    • Burren47

      Chuck,

      Yours is an incredibly elitist argument. And a ridiculous one, at that. You don’t live in Hunt Meadows or Sherwood Forest or Bay Ridge. You live in a downtown, tourist district. What the hell did you expect? “My neighborhood.” Give me a break. I pay taxes for your “neighborhood.” The downtown businesses that your former employer so disdained paid taxes for your “neighborhood.” You don’t have more of a voice as to the direction of downtown than anyone else who pays taxes. That is an eye-rollingly preposterous suggestion. Oh, and “Can we recognize the nearly ten year fiasco of the Markethouse is not the failure of one individual or even one group?” You’re absolutely kidding about that right? Tell me you’re kidding. The Market House is a monument to the arrogance and incompetence of the Moyer administration and the cronyism it represented.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Sniff.

    Mr. or Ms. Burren I am sorry to have offended you.

    Yes, take our neighborhood. And our private property. And our streets.

    They are yours. You get to have ‘fun-fun playtime’ with them.

    Mess them up. Pollution them. Park illegally. Drive business out of them with your absurd demands. Come downtown, get drunk and urinate on my porch.

    Oh, and then post about it here!

    You are right, you ‘pay taxes’. So you have the right – nay obligation – to screw up other people’s neighborhoods and streets. God bless America!

    Just let me come to your neighborhood and do the same.

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Out of curiosity, do you venture out past the Ward One limits Chuck? I mean you do not take advantage of roads maintained by anyone other than Ward One do you? If you were in an accident outside of Ward One, I am sure you would refuse to burden those fine people who pay taxes for that service…right? How do you buy gas for your vehicle? Is there a gas station in Ward One?

      Perhaps anyone not living in Ward One should shun the Market House when it re-opens based on your assertions.

  • Bob McWilliams

    Chuck:

    Hmmm; I read Burren’s post a couple of times and didn’t see where he/she planned to come downtown, get drunk and urinate on your porch.

    I guess you think that if a taxpayer in Annapolis is concerned about how their tax dollars are used on the Market House, that gives Chuck Weikel the right to come and urinate on your porch?

    Do you think the liquor license at the Market House will help or hurt this urination problem that you’re personally willing to help spread to other parts of the City?

  • Burren47

    Chuck…You don’t seem to grasp rudimentary concepts of civics. They’re not your streets. My taxes pay for them. Are you saying that EVERYONE parks illegally and urinates on your porch? I’ve never done that, although I have to admit that I’d like to after reading your pompous posts. And how do outsiders to your little kingdom drive business away? What kind of absurd demands? In fact, the Moyer administration, of which you were a part, was no friend to downtown business. Speaking of businesses being driven away, do you keep up with any of the vendors who were kicked out of the Market House in order to turn it into a total flop? How are they doing lately? Tell them I said hello.

  • Chuck Weikel

    John – Certainly. Yesterday, I was in Boston, today Naples FL. Oh – and I plan a couple of trips to Bob’s and Burren’s neighborhoods in the near future as well. To complain and try to inhibit any improvements they may try to make to theirs. Seems fair, eh?

    Quite frankly, I hope anyone who doesn’t like the new Markethouse would just stay away. Vote with your feet. It’s a market driven economy after all. It should not be an exercise in making everyone happy. Especially the hard core unhappy – who seem to inhabit blogs.

    Bob – I did not realized that urination was such an issue for you. So are the one who has been urinating on my porch?

    Burren – I don’t know who you are. But, let’s say, ‘some people’ – like many of the correspondents here, are primarily responsible for driving business out of downtown. With the byzantine regulations and the whinning about every little thing. The primary reason for the problems in the Markethouse it just that. Outsiders who come downtown and want to tell us how to live and the businesses how to earn a dollar.

    As I have stated repeatedly, ‘some people’ don’t give a solitary hoot about any of the other issues that vex us downtown. Only the issue – The Markethouse – that gives them a platform to spout off from. Your concern is so wonderful!

    These folks have had their chances – 10 years of them in fact. It’s time to get a deal done and re-open the beast. Before ‘some people’ decide its time to care too much again.

    All – the street in front of my house is not my street. But if you want to come downtown and try to change it, then I (and my neighbors & businesses) should have the PRIMARY voice in any debate before you get to screw it up.

    Some people have attiudes are anti-business, anti-resident, anti-neighborhood and anti-Annapolitan. The mirror is on the wall.

    For shame!

  • Bob McWilliams

    At a certain point, the irrationality of your opponent becomes so profound that all you can do is leave the debate. When Mr. Weikel decidided that concern over how tax dollars are spent at the Market House isn’t allowed by Annapolitans who have yet to experience porch urination, the conversation ended for me.

    I couldn’t resist poking fun at the nonsense of such an argument. But, beyond that, further debate is pointless.

  • Chuck Weikel

    Bob:

    Thankfully you have come to that conclusion.

    We’ve all heard your agruments. For years now. And they have been repeatedly rejected. By sucessive councils, mayors, downtown residents and businesses.

    Since you have withdrawn from the field, I know that also means you will stay out of our affairs downtown.

    Thanks!

    It is time to act, get this done, open and operating.

    • Bob McWilliams

      So, my arguments have been rejected and your arguments have been accepted. The result:

      The City is broke.
      The Market House is a mess.
      Our water plant could completely fail at any minuute.
      And, we have closets full of Annapolis 300 medalions.

      I guess I’m pretty comfortable staying with the arguments I’ve made over the years.

  • Roger Delft

    I agree with Bob. We should not let the Markethouse reopen!

  • Bob McWilliams

    Actually “Roger”, I didn’t recommended that it not reopen – it’s never really been closed. It needs to be redeveloped, and that should have been done years ago.

    Sometimes in a debate, your opponent will inaccurately say you made certain statements, then attack you on those false positions. That seems to have been a favorite tactic of Mr. Weikel, but it’s usually quite transparent and thus inaffective.