Peary Court – Resource Suck?

skunk-689181__340At this point, most reasonable people would agree that the purchase of Peary Court doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  What we’re being told is that the City of Key West plans to buy the property for $55 million in order to preserve “workforce housing”.  That plan raises a lot of questions.

  1. The property was purchased for $35 million two years ago by the current owner, Peary Court Holdings.  The appraised value is $55 million.  So while the property may be “worth” $55 million to somebody, is it worth it to the city for it’s intended purpose?
  2. Certain folks in Key West are so excited about this purchase that they formed a PAC called Housing First.  It’s oddly specific.  Obviously supporting affordable housing makes sense, but this PAC is hyper-focused on the purchase of Peary Court.
  3. The purchase will create no new affordable/work-force housing.  The city actually plans to keep the rents about where they are and, according to their pro forma, they will increase them substantially over time.  They have to in order to make the payments.
  4. Only one bank responded to Key West’s Request for Proposal (RFP) for financing the purchase.  Key West wants to cover the payments with rental income only.  The bank wanted the taxpayers to guarantee the loan.  The bank is getting some flak for that, but the bank is a business.  If they don’t make money, they cease to exist.  The pro forma doesn’t provide much comfort that the city would actually be able to make the payments on rent alone.  The bank’s position is definitely understandable.
  5. Peary Court is not price-competitive when compared to similar apartment housing in the area.  A discussion about this can be found here.  There is further detail in the appraisal.

Basically if the city buys Peary Court, the current owner would pocket $20 million from the taxpayers.  The rents would remain about where they are in the short term, and increase over time to cover the debt service.  So there’s zero benefit in terms of creating additional affordable/workforce housing units.

At best this purchase might preserve a few units, and even that benefit is speculative.  Who knows?  We might see a real estate market slump. We might see a downturn in the economy that affects the tourism industry.  This purchase commits the taxpayers of Key West to long-term payments regardless of changes in demand for this type of housing.  It’s unclear what exactly would happen if the city were unable to meet its rental income targets for whatever reason.

According to Key West’s pro forma, about $46 million of the purchase would be financed with a bank loan.  The debt service would be covered by rent.  What about the other $10 million or so?

That would come from the Tourist Impact Tax, I talked a little about that here in terms of Key Largo’s contribution.  We always hear that the Keys is an Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC), but it is actually two.  Key West is one ACSC, and the rest of the Keys are another.  In any case, ACSC are allowed to levy the Tourist Impact Tax (TIMP).  As of now, Monroe County is the only one levying the tax.  (They never met a tax they didn’t like.)

Here are the authorized uses from the 2015 Local Government Financial Information Handbook, page 260.

The proceeds are distributed for the following uses.

1. Fifty percent is transferred to the land authority to be used in accordance with s. 380.0666, F.S., in the area of critical state concern for which the revenue is generated. No more than 5 percent may be used for administration and other costs related to the exercise of such powers.

2. Fifty percent is distributed to the county’s governing body where the revenue was generated. Such proceeds are used to offset the loss of ad valorem taxes due to property acquisitions.

Very recently, there was a change made to the law to allow the money to be used for affordable housing.  Here is that language.

General Law Amendments:

Chapter 2015-30, L.O.F., (CS/CS/SB 1216) amends ss. 125.0108 and 380.0666, F.S., to allow the land authority to contribute 50 percent of the tax proceeds to its most populous city or the housing authority of such municipality at the request of the municipality’s governing body for the purpose of funding the construction, redevelopment, or preservation of affordable housing in the area of critical state concern within the municipality. These changes became effective on May 15, 2015.

I don’t necessarily disagree with this change.  As it was before, Key West was contributing to the tax but really wasn’t able to benefit from it.  There’s little conservation land to purchase in Key West, so why not use the money for affordable housing?  But less than a year after this change was made, Key West officials are chomping at the bit to blow all $10 million of the TIMP on Peary Court plus another $46 million besides.  Weird.  It’s almost as if the change was made specifically to enable the purchase.

If you look at the Land Authority’s page on the county’s website, you will find an adopted budget for FY 2016.  You’ll see a line item for Fund Balance Forward – TIMP Key West ACSC in the amount of $10,409,380.  That’s where that additional $10 million is coming from.

There’s another line item above that:  Revenues – TIMP Key West ACSC in the amount of $1,805,000.  That’s what the county expects to collect this year.  The prior year, it was about $1.5 million.  In other words it took a while to accumulate $10 million and the City of Key West intends to poof it away with the swish of a pen.

It’s hard to see how 157 units is really going to make a dent in the affordable housing issue, especially if that 157 units takes every penny you’ve got and a lot more besides.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Peary Court – Resource Suck?

  1. I don’t know why the local mullet wrappers and news outlets still are not pointing out that the Peary Court developers’ profit, by their own calculations, is at least $32 million in the deal: $55 million, less $35 million, plus the 48 free “affordable” building rights the city GAVE the developers, which the developers valued at $12 million during the “negotiations”. All according to Key West Housing Authority Director Manny Costillo at City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley’s Peary Court purchase town hall meeting. Manny said he told the developers the city could not earn rent off of the 48 building rights. So the developers said, okay, they keep the 48 building rights and build 48 rental dwellings at Peary Court, and the city can have the rest of Peary Court for $55 million. The city’s crack negotiating team, consisting of Costillo, Jimmy Weekley and City Manager Jim Scholl, say okay. The city’s crack negotiating team agrees to the developers’ asking price for the existing 157 units, and the 3 units which had burned and could be rebuilt. The developers keep what actually keep the 48 building rights, which are “called” affordable building rights, which they intend to use to build 48 new units in clusters on the Peary Court land, whether the referendum passes or not, It came out during the 2nd most previous city commission meeting that the 48 building rights effective are for 48 new MARKET RATE units..Also during that commission meeting, it was explained by Donna Bosold, representing the developers, with her husband and business partner Jim Hendrick sitting beside her in the audience before she went to the speaker station, that the new 48 units would be built in clusters throughout Peary Court. That also was explained by City Commissioner Margaret Romero. Until then, the mayor and other city commissioners and the public had thought the 48 new units would be built on 2-plus acres inside of Peary Court, not scattered all throughout it. Until then, Commissioner Weekley had maintained that Jim Hendrick was not representing the developers. In fact, Hendrick represented the developers before the city’s Historical Architectural Review Commission (HARC), and he has represented them ever since. In fact, anyone who does business with someone represented by Jim Hendrick gets fleeced. He’s that smart, clever and good at what he does. Michael Milier, a local architect, lives in one of the Peary Court units. Miller sits on the HARC board. He was chairman of the HARC board when Jim Hendrick represented the developers before HARC. Miller told me the developers did not maintain the Peary Court units after purchasing the them, the buildings have mold, and the $55 million price is too high. The buildings are mostly wood frame and plywood, which termites love. Termites are a problem everywhere in Key West. Manny Costillo said at public meetings that all of the appliances in the units probably need replacing. I suppose that stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers, air conditioning units, etc. For $55 million, the city at the very least should have gotten all of Peary Court, including the 48 building rights it had GIVEN the developers.

    Like

  2. I’m resubmitting the comment above, after finding several errors in the text – I got interrupted by a phone call while I was writing it, thanks for accepting this resubmission:

    I don’t know why the local mullet wrappers and news outlets still are not pointing out that the Peary Court developers’ profit, by their own calculations, is at least $32 million in the deal: $55 million, less $35 million, plus the 48 free “affordable” building rights the city GAVE the developers, which the developers valued at $12 million during the “negotiations”. All according to Key West Housing Authority Director Manny Costillo at City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley’s Peary Court purchase town hall meeting. Manny said he told the developers the city could not earn rent off of the 48 building rights. So the developers said, okay, they keep the 48 building rights and build 48 rental dwellings at Peary Court, and the city can have the rest of Peary Court for $55 million. The city’s crack negotiating team, consisting of Costillo, Jimmy Weekley and City Manager Jim Scholl, say okay. The city’s crack negotiating team agrees to the developers’ asking price for the existing 157 units, and the 3 units which had burned and could be rebuilt. The developers keep the 48 building rights, which are “called” affordable building rights, which they intend to use to build 48 new units on the Peary Court land, whether the referendum passes or not. It came out during the 2nd most previous city commission meeting that the 48 building rights effective are for 48 new MARKET RATE units. Also during that commission meeting, it was explained by Donna Bosold, representing the developers, with her husband and business partner Jim Hendrick sitting beside her in the audience before she went to the speaker station, that the new 48 units would be built in clusters throughout Peary Court. That also was explained by City Commissioner Margaret Romero. Until then, the mayor and other city commissioners and the public had thought the 48 new units would be built on 2-plus acres inside of Peary Court, not scattered all throughout it. Until then, Commissioner Weekley had maintained Jim Hendrick was not representing the developers. In fact, Hendrick represented the developers before the city’s Historical Architectural Review Commission (HARC), and he has represented them ever since. In fact, anyone who does business with someone represented by Jim Hendrick gets fleeced. He’s that smart, clever and good at what he does. Michael Milier, a local architect, lives in one of the Peary Court units. Miller sits on the HARC board. He was chairman of the HARC board when Jim Hendrick represented the developers before HARC. Miller told me the developers did not maintain the Peary Court units after purchasing them, the buildings have mold, and the $55 million price is too high. The buildings are mostly wood frame and plywood, which termites love. Termites are a problem everywhere in Key West. Manny Costillo said at public meetings that all of the appliances in the units probably need replacing. I suppose that’s stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers, air conditioning units, etc. For $55 million, the city at the very least should have gotten all of Peary Court, including the 48 building rights it had GIVEN the developers.

    Like

    • M_Blank says:

      Hmmm…don’t know the first attempt didn’t work. I’m at the mercy of WordPress here.

      Most of the time just getting the facts down on paper makes the decision very clear. Peary Court is definitely a “NO” even before factoring in the repair costs that you mention. Let’s hope the voters see it.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s