Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lest We Forget: Rick Gray's "mugging" by PSP

The following are quotes from the Intelligencer Journal headlined "news" report (or should we say fantasy) of Aug.11, 2006:

"Lancaster city Mayor Rick Gray announced a plan Thursday to keep alive a hotel/convention center project by plugging a $20 million funding gap." The gap did not get plugged; rather it grew.

"... $2 million for the naming rights to the convention center." Half of which we now learn is to go to Penn Square Partners. Penn Square Partners will also get half of any additional State funding.

" Some $5.25 million of Gray's plan would come from what developers term 'value engineering'. This is a plan that calls for construction firms to be asked to build portions of the project with less-costly materials than originally proposed." The $5.25 didn't materialized. Instead, costs soared.

"$3 million from the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County when it purchases easements covering the Watt & Shand and Montgomery House facades." Sheer fantasy. The Trust denied the assertion right away.

"The project budget is now about $160 million and would be composed of almost $40 million in private funding and more than $100 million from public sources." The last we heard it was around $180 million and it may climb yet to $200 million. As for "$40 million in private funding", we have no idea what they were talking about. Last we heard, the commitment was about eleven million.

"Gray said that although the entire plan is not guaranteed, 'this is a plan you can reasonably expect to come to fruition.'" Well, it didn't!

Buried in the article was an observation from Thomas Despard, a local resident with decades of national real estate experience: "'No matter how good the intentions of project supporters, it is time for all parties to recognize that this funding gap cannot be responsibly bridged, and that by joining together as a community we can pursue several worthier alternatives." Truer words have seldom been spoken!