Monday, March 14, 2016

Who Got The South Elm Street Redevelopment Money: Part 4

Well since beginning the series, Who Got The South Elm Street Redevelopment Money: Part 1
I have made some rather startling revelations. For instance: In Part 1 I made known the payouts to the Guilford County Health Department, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and even to the City of Greensboro from a fund that was designated to pay for the redevelopment of South Elm Street.

In Who Got The South Elm Street Redevelopment Money: Part 2 I exposed  the dozens upon dozens of payments to real-estate appraisers like Taylor Pope & Herring Inc,, Messick and Company, McNairy & Associates, Michael Watts MAI SRA, William L Herbert, and several more real estate appraisers... How many times is it necessary to appraise the same 13 pieces of property?

And then there was the supposed payment of $315,601.22 to The Firm At Fisher Park...

When I posted Who Got The South Elm Street Redevelopment Money: Part 3 you learned of  $542,284.28 paid to Triangle Paving and Grading for work that was never done. At least, not at the South Elm Street Redevelopment Project.

All of those things I learned from the Transaction Report as furnished to me by Greensboro City Attorney Thomas Carruthers.

I originally had asked for the receipts which would have provided more detailed information but according to the e-mail from Mr Carruthers I would have to pay the City of Greensboro $4,000 or more to get that information. $4,000 I simply do not have.

Today, before I share with you what else I've found in the Transaction Report I thought I'd also point out a blatant lie that was told by the City of Greensboro in the recent Robert vs City of Greensboro trial and echoed by the local media.

From the Carolina Journal: 

"However, Perkins, who was defeated by current Mayor Nancy Vaughan in the 2013 municipal election, was adamant that no promises were made to Robert.
“I can unequivocally say I made no claims on behalf the city or as mayor,” Perkins told CJ. “I don’t know where [Robert] is coming from.” 

When asked about the March 11, 2012 meeting with Robert and Roth, Perkins said, “I don’t remember that. I had hundreds of meetings as mayor.”

In a 2012 study analyzing brownfield grants from 2002-07, HUD stated Greensboro would use funds “to finance predevelopment costs” for the South Elm street project, which included “acquisition of real property, relocation payments, clearance, demolition and removal, infrastructure upgrades and site preparation.”

From  The Rhino:

"Robert is suing Greensboro because he claims the city used the property owned by his company, QUB Studios, in its application for federal redevelopment funds, but he never received any of the over $6.6 million in grants and loans that the city received.  The city did include Robert’s property in some of the application documents.  The Mill is currently just south of the redevelopment site, but the city claims it is under no obligation to share federal the money with Robert.

Last week the city received an 11-page affidavit with 192 pages of attachments from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provided the federal money stating in part, “Under the terms of the BEDI Grant Agreement and the Section 108 Contract, the City could not have used BEDI Grant Funds or Guaranteed Loan Funds site preparation, including remediation, on privately owned properties other than those owned by a subrecipient meeting the definition of subrecipient in the C.F.R. [code of federal regulations].”  QUB Studios is not a subrecipient according to the federal definition.

The affidavit also states, “HUD had no expectation that the City of Greensboro would use the funds from the BEDI grant or the Section 108 loan for remediation, demolition, clearance, or site preparation activities on property that was not acquired or previously owned by the City or the Subrecipient.”

But here in the July 16, 2003 City of Greensboro BEDI Grant Proposal as submitted to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development we can clearly see the City of Greensboro did submit their grant with intentions of getting money to clean up the old mill. As a matter of fact: The old mill was #1 on the City's list.

So while it might be true that HUD does not give money to individuals, as noted by the Carolina Journal and the July 16, 2003 City of Greensboro BEDI Grant Proposal the City of Greensboro did have intentions of using HUD money to clean up the Old Mill property and did promise Mr Robert they would reimburse him the cost of remediation:

"The suit also cites a March 11, 2012 meeting with Mayor Robbie Perkins and interim City Manager Denise Turner Roth in which they “represented to Mr. Robert that funds for the South Elm Street Redevelopment Project would be paid to QUB and Mr. Robert in late 2013.”

That meeting is referenced in a letter to Robert from Assistant City Manager Andy Scott, who wrote, “the city will suggest that certain improvements to the Old Mill be included in the next round of financing for the South Elm Street Redevelopment Project. It is anticipated the funds should be available in late 2013.”

And then there's the latest from the Transaction Report: According to the Transaction Report as provided to me by Greensboro City Attorney Thomas Carruthers, a total of $2,375,854.04 was paid to The Firm @ Fisher Park from the total $8,171,830.oo budget.

Now if you ask me The Firm @ Fisher Park never got this money. You see, it just doesn't make sense as the City of Greensboro BEDI Grant Proposal indicates there were only 15 properties in which a law firm's services would be needed, $2 Million was all the grant was for, and The Firm @ Fisher Park was one of several local law firms that were paid more than enough to do the entire job.

Of course, had the City of Greensboro not spent months delaying the release of any information and then only releasing incomplete information we might actually know the truth.

And folks, as you read through the 68 page Grant proposal you'll come to notice that what the Developers and City of Greensboro are building there are nothing like what the Grant and Federal Loan was supposed to pay for. It was supposed to solve our affordable housing crisis but that never happened.

Our past City Councils appear to have participated in the squandering of $8,171,830.oo of Federal, State, County and City taxpayer funding for the South Elm Street Redevelopment Project-- our Mayor, Nancy Barakat Vaughan and the current City Council appears to be participating in the cover-up.

But then maybe the following quote from attorney Scott Hale explains it all:

“It’s a shame that they think spending money on lawyers is economic development rather than spending money on the South Elm Street redevelopment project.”

Stay tuned for Who Got The South Elm Street Redevelopment Money: Part 5, but in the meantime tell everyone you know what we've learned thus far.