3 Market House Myths Debunked

| May 21, 2011 | 2 Comments

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Once again, the City seems to be blowing smoke up the rear ends of whomever will listen. In an article published in The Capital today, Elisha Sauers writes about the latest dreams of the Administration for the Market House and how it is expected to greet visitors once again on July 11, 2011. But that is a pipe dream; and here’s why.

3 Myths Of The Market House Debunked

MYTH: The facility will be open on July 11. (Caveat, The Capital did not specify 2011, but it is assumed)

FACT: No way in hell.  The company that the City hired for $25,000 to study the HVAC projected in a presentation to City Council (PDF, Page 22) that it will take 13 weeks (more than 3 months) to complete the project. If the City expects to “start” the process on June 17th, if all goes well, vendors will be able to occupy the structure just as the October boat show crowds leave the City and the businesses all struggle to survive another winter. Let’s not forget that between now and July 11th there are two National holidays and another one in September.

MYTH: The Market House Manager will be hired sometime after June 3 by employees and will have a hand in selecting  a dozen vendors to occupy the building by July 11.

FACT: Applications are due on June 3rd from candidates. It is reasonable to assume one will not be hired for several weeks. Keep in mind, the Human Resources Director made a hasty exit after many years earlier this month. But assuming there are candidates willing to work for the City for 3 months, and they begin work a week after the applications are received–will they be able to find and select 12 vendors to occupy the structure in 4 weeks? And will they be able to do interior renovations to accommodate the vendors in that time as well?

MYTH: The new Market House will open with 12 vendors.

FACT: The City is basing this on the assumption that there are 12 vendors who are willing to invest in opening a location where they likely will be displaced from in three months. Even if they were selected to remain, their business would be disrupted for another 16 weeks when the City decides to complete the HVAC installation after the initial phase (page 22 of PDF).

The City has apparently changed its position on the Market House. When Gone To Market was handed the sweetheart deal for the Market House, the position of the City was that they never intended to use it to make money–hence the favorable terms to Lehr Jackson. But now, City employees will determine the rent.

And if recent information is any indication, this might not be the best course of action since City Manager Mallinoff and Finance Director Miller were unable to determine that the City owed nearly $4 million in obligated debt.

As much as the City would like to keep control of the Market House, it might be time to consider selling it. It has sat nearly or completely vacant since Tropical Storm Isabel in September 2003. Nearly a decade! In fact, cries for the sale have already been heard.

The City is on the verge of insolvency. The City has had nearly a decade to demonstrate even a slight modicum of capability in managing this property and failed miserably at every turn. While claiming a desire to run transparent administration, this Mayor had done anything but. There have been more closed meetings of the City Council than any other administration. Decisions seem to be unilaterally made and sprung on the Council and public at the last minute–Market House, line of credit, theft from Finance Office, and now the $4 million worth of bills that our well paid City Manager and Finance Director just discovered.

With a City facing a very real threat of being broke in just over a month, the idea of forging ahead with the Market House seems ludicrous. The City can sell the property with restricted uses and avoid paying additional half million to upgrade the air conditioning.

What do you think? Please leave a comment below!

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Category: NEWS, OPINION

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.