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Kilsheimer Writes Open Letter About City Center Proposal

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Informs residents how Friday’s meeting will frame future City Center discussions.

Mayor Joe Kislheimer took to social media this afternoon to voice his views on the need to move forward on Friday with the proposed City Center project.

He posted the following "open letter" on his Facebook Page, Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer. He also posted it in a closed Facebook Group.


 

January 13, 2016

To: Apopka Residents

From: Mayor Joe Kilsheimer

Re: City Center proposal

Fellow residents:

On Friday, January 15, the Apopka City Council will consider another in a series of steps toward the possible realization of a long-term, community-wide goal: the development of a new City Center. The plan is to create an exciting and vibrant commercial, social and community gathering place that reflects not only Apopka’s rich past, but one which also embraces its future as one of the crown jewels of Central Florida – a position it has justly earned and that its residents deserve.

In recent days, a lot of social media conversation has centered on the proposal we will consider on Friday. I want to take this opportunity to inform you directly of what has been proposed and how Friday’s meeting will frame future City Center discussions.

On Friday we will consider a proposed Agreement for Sale and Purchase of land owned by the City. You can find the proposed contract on the City’s website at www.apopka.net and clicking on the agenda link.

The proposed buyer is Taurus Southern Investments (TSI), the same development company that brought Sam’s Club to Apopka. TSI is part of a larger company, Taurus Investment Holdings, which has a global presence, and has bought and sold more than 20 million square feet of residential, office, industrial, retail and commercial real estate assets since its founding in 1976. TSI was the sole respondent to the Request for Proposals that the City issued on July 16, 2015 but clearly has the financial wherewithal to help the City achieve its City Center goal.

Reviewing the TSI proposal, it is important to note – on the first page of the agreement – that the final sale is CONDITIONED upon the successful negotiation of a Development Agreement within 30 days of the sales agreement’s effective date. A development agreement is a separate contract that sets forth important rights and obligations of both the City and the developer (TSI) regarding the City Center project and provides the City with contractual assurance that the project will comply with all of the City’s objectives and requirements. According to the proposed sales agreement, the Development Agreement would: 1) define the design, permitting and construction of the City Center Project; 2) provide for the timing and delivery of the City Center Project; 3) provide for the timing and delivery of public spaces such as a pedestrian walkway; and 4) address the future of Highland Manor.

If the City Council approves the sales agreement on Friday, TSI must bring the City specific plans that will allow us to judge the merits of the sale, including costs vs. benefits and any potential return on investment, within 30 days.

Importantly, if the City and TSI are unable to agree on a Development Agreement, the Sale-and-Purchase agreement becomes void with no further action by either party. The Sale-and-Purchase agreement gives TSI the right to a single, 30-day extension to the time period for consummating the Development Agreement.

There are additional considerations, such as the proposed sale price of $150,000 per acre and how that relates to the average of about $450,000 per acre that the City originally paid for the land. There is no way to describe this as other than a market loss. Nevertheless, it is a fact of life in Central Florida and across the state that real estate values have not rebounded to their historical heights prior to the Great Recession. As the economy in Central Florida – and the rest of the state – continues to improve, the question for Apopka is when to strike when seeking out the types of shopping, dining and entertainment options that residents want and deserve.

Moreover, the investment that City leaders made in 2007 to buy the City Center property can be considered just that: an investment in Apopka’s future. Without it, the option to even consider a new City Center would not exist.

On a short-term basis, the sale of any asset for less than the purchase price is a loss. In the case of Apopka City Center, the calculation must at least include potential long-term impacts. A successful City Center over time would return all of Apopka’s original investment and pay dividends in the form of higher sales tax and property tax revenues for generations to come.

Friday’s meeting is but one step toward achieving the goal of a successful City Center project. While there are plenty of discussions to come, and plenty of additional opportunity for public input, this first step on Friday is an important one in exploring Apopka’s exciting future and considering what our City can become.

Thank you, as always, for your passion and interest in the future of Apopka.

Joe Kilsheimer

Mayor, City of Apopka


 

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