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Sold!

Council approves deal with Pattison for 120 W. Main St. City approves first of competing offers

SOLON– City council members selected the proposal that was ready to roll.
Citing financial and legal readiness, the city approved selling an empty lot next door to City Hall to developer Mark Pattison during a Nov. 20 council meeting.
North Corridor Properites Investments will take possession of 120 W. Main St. in December and begin construction on a two-story mixed-use building with two commercial units on the ground level and a single, upper-level residence.
The city considered a competing offer from Uptown Main LLC, represented by developer Al Wells.
In October, the city announced its intention to sell the lot and gave other interested parties until the morning of Nov. 19 to submit alternate plans.
At the Nov. 20 session, council members held public hearings on the disposal of the property, as well a request to rezone both 120 and 130 W. Main St. to retail commercial.
Also on the agenda was the approval of the developer’s agreement with North Corridor Properites Investments and the associated site plan for 120 W. Main St.
Sorting it all out for council members was City Attorney Kevin Olson.
Olson explained the city’s notice of intent to sell the property included provisions to proceed with Pattison’s developer’s agreement unless a better suited proposal was received.
Since the city received an alternate submission from Uptown Main LLC, Olson asked both developers to describe their proposals for council members.
Wells asked the city to consider requesting proposals in a manner giving developers an equal amount of time to prepare.
Although coming in on the tail end of the process, Wells said he had attended a previous meeting where Pattison’s proposal was considered and felt he had a better plan.
“I believe my plan by far is in the best interests of the city,” he noted.
Uptown Main’s alternative would offer four condominiums on the upper level as opposed to one.
Wells indicated the condos would be specifically marketed to homeowners in the downtown fringe area looking to downsize.
Uptown Main would purchase the existing houses, refurbish them and place them back on the market as entry-level family homes, he said.
“I’ve been approached for the last three years from people who want to move out of their homes into a smaller condominium, but they don’t want to be outside of the downtown area,” he told council members. “They want to be able to walk to the grocery store.”
Each condo would have a deck and three parking spaces– two in a garage and one off-street. The single two-bedroom and three one-bedroom units, ranging in size from 900 to 1200 square feet, would be serviced by an elevator.
Real estate agents have expressed interest in the commercial space, Wells said, regardless of the developer.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “The interest is there from the same people.”
He proposed a more traditional exterior, not beige or brick, and indicated the units would be competitively priced.
Wells said he was open to working on a timeline with the city, later noting Uptown Main would be prepared to close on the property in December.
“If my plan does not better represent the best interests of the city with respect to the development of that property, then you have Mark’s plan,” he concluded.
City Engineer Dave Schechinger could make only a brief review of the proposal, indicating the Uptown Main alternate presented a similar space as the North Corridor Properites design. Until the project reached the site plan stage, he said, engineering comments would be of a very preliminary nature.
Olson, responding to Wells’ request for clarified development objectives, said the city was seeking $160,000 for the property and the construction of a mixed-use building with two commercial units on the ground floor and one residential unit on the second floor.
In addition, he said, “the city reserves the right to consider the legal and financial ability of developers submitting proposals to carry out the desired development on the development property.”
The city also has the right to negotiate with the developer providing an alternate proposal, he added.
Olson defended the process used by the city. The city purchased the land with Tax Increment Finance dollars, he said, and is following the correct process. Olson said he had personally worked on 20 to 30 similar projects over the years.
Simply requesting proposals doesn’t always result in an acceptable project, he said.
“This way you focus developers on what the city wants,” Olson said.
Pattison then made a brief presentation regarding the North Corridor Properites proposal for two commercial units with a single upper-story residence. He noted a purchase agreement for 130 W. Main St., currently owned by D.R. Miller, had been obtained in order to provide adequate side setbacks.
Pattison said North Corridor Properites is ready to close on the property in December and begin construction.
“We want to get started right away,” he noted.
When asked about a long-range plan for the existing house at 130 W. Main St., Pattison said it was still up in the air.
“It’s in great shape,” he said.
The property will be rezoned for commercial use, he added, and one idea is to redo the entire façade by adding brick and stone to the exterior, get it up to commercial code, and offer it as a commercial property.
He suggested it would blend in well and give some character to the downtown.
Council members closed the public hearing and returned to the subject later in the meeting when it considered the developer’s agreement previously negotiated with Pattison.
Olson advised the council members of their options: approve the developer’s agreement with North Corridor Properites, table the agreement and study the proposal from Wells, or table the item and work with Wells on a separate agreement.
The developer’s agreement with Pattison calls for building occupancy within two years of agreement, Mayor Steve Stange observed. What happens if the timeline is not met, he asked Olson.
Olson said reversionary elements could be added to the deed.
Council member Steve Duncan said Wells’ proposal for four units stood out, but he pointed out Pattison had been proactive in redeveloping Main Street and proactive in obtaining an agreement to purchase the adjacent house. Pattison’s track record is “unquestioned,” he added.
Council member Mark Prentice also liked the four-unit alternative, but also felt Pattison’s track record was important.
“We have some history, we have some experience with Mark Pattison,” Prentice said. “I’m pretty confident that what he says will happen will happen. I think that has a lot of weight here.”
Council members approved the agreement with North Corridor Properites Investments unanimously, with council member Shawn Mercer absent.
Council members also approved the first reading of the ordinance to rezone to the two parcels, and are expected to condense the second and third readings at the first meeting in December.