City to ‘Step Up’ Communication with Developer Vlass

The City Council voted Tuesday to coordinate with city attorneys to write a letter to the developer of the downtown redevelopment project.

The Temple Terrace City Council wants to make sure Vlass Temple Terrace, which is developing the downtown redevelopment area, understands that the second and third phases of the project are separate parts.

The council voted Tuesday to direct City Manager Kim Leinbach to coordinate with city attorneys to write a letter to Vlass regarding Phase 2 of the project, which includes the Arts & Education Center.

“I just think we should step it up a notch,” Leinbach said.

In July, Leinbach wrote a letter to the Vlass group regarding Phase 2. The letter asked Vlass to let the city know if there was anything standing in the way of Vlass moving forward with Phase 2. Leinbach said he hadn’t seen a response from Vlass outlining any obstacles.

However, no progress has been made on Phase 2 of the project. Meanwhile, the city and Vlass have been .

On Sept. 25, Vlass submitted its third and final proposal regarding Phase 3, which would require several changes to the master development agreement (MDA) if approved by the council. The MDA is a document that dictates what the developer can and can’t do. Vlass’ final proposal also incorporates the Arts & Education Center.

City Councilman David Pogorilich asked the council to recognize that there is no reason for the Arts & Education Center to be incorporated in the revised proposal for Phase 3 as it is part of Phase 2.

“Phase 2 stands alone by itself,” he said. “It always has.”

He also asked council to direct Leinbach to write a letter to Vlass demanding that Vlass give the city the Arts & Education Center site plan within 10 days, as well as the interior building layouts within 30 days. He later asked Leinbach to coordinate with the city attorney’s office when he writes the letter to the Vlass group.

The council unanimously approved Pogorilich’s actions.

The council also unanimously approved a conceptual floor plan for the Arts & Education Center. Leinbach said the council doesn’t usually vote on floor plans, but Vlass asked the council to do so.

The city’s architect representative, John Toppe, worked with Vlass’ architect to create the conceptual floor plan for the proposed 16,800-square-foot facility. They finalized the last drawing on Sept. 19.

“It’s a really cool building,” Toppe said. “It’s very efficient, it’s very functional, it’s exactly what we’ve asked (the Vlass group) to give us. They’ve respected our plan completely.”

The floor plan includes a lobby and art gallery; arts education spaces for visual and performing arts; a 360-seat, multi-purpose theater and conference center; concession and catering facilities; and administrative and support spaces.

Council members said they expect the Arts & Education Center to be built now that they have approved the conceptual floor plan, but Pogorilich contended that Vlass didn’t need the floor plan to move forward.

“The plan that we approved tonight never was necessary for (Vlass) to be able to submit the preliminary site plan, which is the next logical step,” Pogorilich said. “We have to approve the preliminary site plan before they can go to construction drawings.”

Also during the meeting:

--Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti called for a special meeting to make a final decision on Vlass’ revised proposal regarding the residential units. The meeting will take place Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. at Lightfoot Recreation Center.

--City Councilwoman Alison Fernandez, the council’s liaison to the city’s School Support Committee, encouraged citizens to be more involved in helping improve schools by visiting schools, mentoring, attending School Support Committee meetings and joining PTAs.

“This is something that came up recently at the last candidate forum,” she said. “… I would like this community to form a united front regarding our public schools.”

--The council gave initial approval to an ordinance establishing an exemption from certain ad valorem taxes for new businesses and expansion of existing businesses, which is an effect of the property tax incentive approved by voters earlier this year. The monies used for this rebate are reflected by the taxes that the qualifying business pays to the city, Leinbach said.

--Mayor Joe Affronti proclaimed the month of October as Crime Prevention Month and Oct. 7-13 as Fire Prevention Week.

See also:
Mayor: Impending Redevelopment Vote is ‘Most Important Decision’

concern citizen October 05, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Thank you, is this a legal document? It is between the developer and the city?
Temple Terrace Resident 2 October 06, 2012 at 10:12 PM
"What is in the contract and how strong is it. Can Vlass be held, legally, to the MDA." MDA is public record and is available from the city clerk for all to read. Yes, Vlass can legally be held to what they signed, or it would not be an MDA. "If Vlass walks, or is terminated for breach of the MDA and the city sues, what are the chances of collecting a penny?" If Vlass walks or is terminated, we pay Vlass for the work they have done, and then send out a new and much better Request for Proposals, and craft a better MDA when we get a new developer. If Vlass sues us it would likely be frivilous as "they" are in breach of contract. "If Vlass walks, or is terminated for breach of the MDA what are the short and long term likely impacts on the city finances?" We will have to scramble to find the money to pay them for work done but it is not impossible. I have heard from councilmembers that we could make interest only payments (i.e. while in the process of finding a new developer) for a couple of years and not be in finanical jeopardy. "If Vlass walks, or is terminated for breach of the MDA what is the likely time frame to find a new developer?" We could craft a new RFP and have a new developer lined up in six months or less. That's assuming Vlass doesn't file a frivilous lawsuit and tie up the property for a bit.
Temple Terrace Resident 2 October 06, 2012 at 10:14 PM
MDA is legal and binding contract between city and developer.
JS October 07, 2012 at 08:50 PM
"MDA is legal and binding contract between city and developer." That is a true statement. What is left out, however, it is only as binding as the drafting of the language behind it, and no one, it seems, has the answer as to whether Vlass has legal reason to follow it or not. I do not have much faith in what the council and mayor drafted. They didnt even have the foresight to decide who was going to pay for and provide maintenance for cripes sake. How good can this document be.
JS October 07, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I know the patch, by constantly posting articles about Romney/Obama, enjoys all the website traffic it generates through all the online feuds and battles, but I sure would like to see our local online paper go after the local problem of the redevelopment and try to help get the citizens the answers they deserve.


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