Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The White Elephant is Gone! Maybe?

To All COLA LO Members,

Last night after extensive discussion the LO City Council Voted 6-1 to Sell the West End Building to the Kensington Group for $16.5 million.    Thus taking the first step toward ending a flawed decision made by the Hammerstad administration over 7 years ago.   

After wasting nearly $ 9 million in taxpayer funds in operating costs and potentially another $4 million in selling at a price lower than the $20 million originally paid, this debacle may be coming to an end.   Its still far off but the step was taken to enter into a sales agreement last night.    Only Councilor Gustafson voted against selling the WEB.  

Easily the most divisive decision in city history, the purchase of the WEB outraged citizens when $20 million in debt was taken on without voter approval.    The building has remained largely empty and under used since purchased.    

The irony was even last night the council admitted they had no idea how they could use the building given the absence of support for paying off the debt with a bond measure throughout the community.  After 7 years the conclusion was that in the absence of a $40-130 million bond for a community center the purchase decision was deeply flawed.   

The council received testimony from one commercial broker who bid on the building against the city and told the council that at the peak of the market they valued the building at $16 million yet then Mayor Hammerstad bid on it at $20 million or a nearly $4 million premium to the experts opinion.  

Taxpayers will not be required to pay for that very poor decision once again.   Its hopefully the end of a very expensive lesson in real estate speculation by city officials.  

Some details can be found at:   Council Votes to Sell WEB?

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

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