Proposed harborfront development has setback

A proposed harborfront development has been put on hold for the moment, and maybe longer.

Plans to build a restaurant-type facility by Chadwick Bay Marina operators Jeff Gambino and Mike Pucci were presented to the city’s Planning Board in February but there’s been a change. According to both Gambino and Pucci, Pucci no longer wants to be part of the proposal due to the fact grants the previous administration had offered to help fund the project have not materialized.

Common Council met Tuesday in regular session and that’s where Resolution 70-2013 comes in. It would have authorized the city to enter into a landlord consent agreement to help with the financing of the project. Gambino’s lender in the project is Loeb Term Solutions LLC and the Chicago-based firm wanted the city to create a security interest for Loeb in the event of a lease default by Chadwick Bay Marina Holding Inc.

The resolution would have directed Mayor Anthony J. Dolce to make a deal that would have provided Loeb with security interest in certain collateral prior to the city’s interest and notify Loeb in writing at least 30 days prior to commencing any proceedings to terminate the lease. In addition, 70-2013 states Loeb would be notified if Chadwick lease payments were not received on time and, to the city’s knowledge, Chadwick is not in default under the current lease. Loeb would also have the ability to enter the premises to deal with the collateral in the event of a default.

When it came time to vote, Councilwoman Stacy Szukala moved to table 70-2013. Councilman Adelino Gonzalez provided a second and Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak called for the vote on tabling. Councilmen Michael Michalski and William J. Rivera voted no on tabling with Gonzalez and Szukala voting to table, leaving Kiyak to decide the fate of the resolution.

“Aye, this resolution passes three votes yes, two votes no,” Kiyak stated. “I take that back. This resolution was tabled with three votes aye and two votes no.”

The meeting then adjourned and Gambino was asked how the tabling will affect the project.

“We’ll find out in the next few days I guess. I’ve got to inform the bank and find out if they’re still willing to stick in there for a while,” he replied, adding he somewhat understood council’s vote.

“But on the same token, banks don’t want to necessarily want to work on our time table, so we’ll see what they say. They worked very hard to try and get this thing done so we can move ahead with the development project, and they moved quite a bit of work to get it done,” Gambino continued. “So we’ll see if it works out, if they’re upset about this or if they’re not. I’ll find out in the next few days.

“The whole purpose of the resolution was so I could buy out my partner who doesn’t want to move forward with the development. I’m buying him out so that I can move forward with it, so that’s what the financing was in place for.”

Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said the issue had been discussed since late Thursday and his questions were answered.

“All we were doing tonight was allowing the lending agency on to the property if Mr. Gambino were to default on his terms with them. I was satisfied but council was not, some were,” Dolce stated. “My hope is that they pick this up immediately, get whatever remaining questions they have answered, and call a special meeting right away.”

Dolce was asked if all council members had the same information.

“Yes, three members were at a Finance Committee meeting last night Mr. Pucci had attended and answered questions. Two were not and but two also had conversations with Mr. Gambino and/or Mr. Pucci and there was a series of emails that went around too, looking to answer questions as well,” he replied. “The answers were out there, but apparently there are still questions unanswered. The city’s role, council’s role, is to approve this landlord consent because we are the landlords. Basically, we are allowing the lending agency on to the property in the event of a default. … To me, the heavy lifting was done and I think we were in a position tonight to have this go through.”

Dolce was asked if it was just for the proposed restaurant development and not the marina itself.

“That’s where there’s some confusion. To me, I take it as the collateral. There’s a list of collateral that we have to agree to and some of that collateral is marina stuff. It’s stuff that the city doesn’t have an interest in,” he replied. “Obviously, we own the building and stuff there, but we don’t own certain aspects. The gas tanks, the docks, they’re not the city’s. So that may have created some of the confusion as to why some members wanted to table it.”

Gonzalez stated there were questions about the contract’s wording and Dolce was supposed to clear up the issues.

“I tried to get that clarification earlier today, didn’t get that. … In order to do this we need everybody to be on the same page and clear before we go ahead and do this because it’s our marina,” he added. “It’s a big part of this city and we just can’t do things without getting all our t’s crossed and all our i’s dotted. We need to be clear on everything before we go ahead on this. … It’s not really clear – clear. It’s a lot of pieces put together and it needs to be clarified. This is what it says, this is what it means, this is what we will do, this is who is involved and this is who’s not involved, basically that.”

Rivera said he understood there may be some questions.

“Trust me, when it comes to due diligence and what’s right for the city, I’m going to make sure it’s going to get done. I can’t tell you how ready I am to get this project moving on and it’s going to move on no matter what,” he added. “We’ve just got to figure out who’s going to be involved, and by the end of this week I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t get this worked out.”

Gonzalez said a meeting is planned for Thursday if it is needed.

“Mr. Gambino is going to call the bank to make sure it’s still OK, because if the bank says that it’s a no-go there’s no sense having a meeting,” Gonzalez added. “Hopefully, the bank will understand and we can have that meeting.”

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