TEE it Up!
In case anybody missed it, the TEE Center parking deck has been in the news a lot lately, especially since the Land Bank option caught everyone a little flat-footed. Face it — it’s the story that won’t die. No matter how many times it seems to flatline, somebody will grease up those paddles and jolt it back with just enough juice to keep everyone busy for another commission cycle or two. Please excuse if we’re a little off with medical lingo — we used to watch “ER,” but damn… that was a long time ago. The point is, at least 10 years before the Land Bank option, people have been talking about the TEE Center parking deck. How was it funded? Who owned what? Who knew what, and when? In some ways, it’s been an awesome recruiting tool for continuing education classes, having inspired countless Augustans (and expatriated Augustans) to become experts in difficult fields like accounting, finance and, of course, the law. The stuff that happens in the Municipal Building is complicated. And it’s happening all the time. Fluidly. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that it’s too complicated for the likes us, but it does mean that it’s too complicated for the likes of all of us, and it seems right now that all of us — or at least all of us who are obsessing over this parking deck — feel like we have something groundbreaking to say. But here’s a thought — while everyone is queuing trying to smash this piñata, what’s really happening in this city? And who’s getting away with it? As for the TEE Center parking deck, here’s an update. If the land the TEE Center parking deck is on really does get donated to the Land Bank, the city would still qualify for those non-taxable bonds we’re all hearing so much about. That’s considered a good thing because if the agreement were to change, those bonds could possibly be recalled, and it’s the tax-free nature of the bonds — made possible because of the negotiated air rights — that saved taxpayers between $1.5 and $1.7 million. Remember, the city went with the air rights because Augusta Riverfront LLC needed more parking spaces than the non-taxable bond program would allow them to fund, so instead of donating the land they donated the air rights. Now the commission is attempting to complete the management agreement for both the TEE Center parking deck and the Marriott deck, both of which are owned by the city. And yes, the city does own the deck above the first floor, not just the air. Though a lot has been made about the unhealthy intertwining of interests, the fact of the matter is, it wasn’t just the city’s bond attorneys and tax attorneys that signed off on what everyone would agree was a complex deal. Insiders say the city would never have been able to sell the bonds if a gaggle of lawyers, the bonding company and most of all Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, weren’t happy with the agreement. When attorney Jim Plunkett spoke about certain mechanisms being in place to allow certain things to happen, this is what he was talking about — part of the mechanism was the forgiving of liens. And when the vote was made last Tuesday, it was with the idea that these conditions had to be met. Other than the fact that the Land Bank wasn’t initially involved, these were the same conditions they had been looking at before. The management agreement for the TEE Center itself is a totally separate issue that falls next in line, but while the terms of that agreement have yet to be hammered out, the decision that Augusta Riverfront will manage it was long ago approved. And as far as the management of the decks themselves — in the grand scheme of things, we’re talking about a little loose change.You Might Also Like:
Posted in Insider