City should have a signed lease in hand

November 17, 2003

Dear Editor:

The anticipated parking garage has become the focal point of anticipated downtown development. The various groups who have endeavored to bring business interests to the buildings that once housed The Hub are united in their understanding that no viable entity will consider Danville without a multi-floor parking garage.

Within the community, there is no evidence of unanimity. There is an appreciation for those who spend countless hours wrestling with the continuing vacancy of these properties. It appears that the final push is on for the garage structure and at least one city commissioner thinks that the city taxpayers should have no reluctance to embrace a bond issue that would assure the construction of a parking edifice. The assumption that the city will not be exposed to any liability is a bit off the mark.

One of the problems that exist for Danvillians, as it relates to this issue, lies in the fact that any question that has a hint of negativity in it is seen as opposition. Those of us who support our friends and neighbors, as they serve on committees designed to bring about the culmination of a parking garage, are reticent to comment. The attempt to have open forums, as they relate to asking questions, etc., usually falls on fallow ground. Simply put; we don't want to offend our friends.


The last major statement issued concerns a potential lessee who evidently made it clear that they are interested in the development, but only if the city provides a multi-million dollar garage. There was no assurance given that a lease was in hand. On the basis of this information, the push for this garage has been acclaimed by the various local entities and we are told that now is the time.

There is one question, however, that is not negative nor is it positive. It is this: If this potential lessee is sold on the project why have they not agreed to a lease with all the details outlined and all the responsibilities of both parties defined? There need be only one provision in the lease that protects the potential lessee: The city agrees to have the garage in place within six months from an agreed upon date, or the lessee can cancel the lease and walk away.

With a signed Lease in hand, the argument can be swayed from "what if" or "maybe" to a definitive agreement between the parties to perform the tasks involved and to which each has committed. In the absence of such a document the city, in the midst of construction, may find that the "potential" lessee, through any number of possible scenarios, my change its mind and walk away.

There is no question that if each party is legally bound to the other before the construction begins, the city can expect that the garage will serve a purpose that is based upon contract and not venture. Developers risk their investment monies as a part of business necessity. City governments should be a lot more careful about risk.

Edward Clark


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