RDA, developer details potential loan for Brick House | News, Sports, Jobs

The terms of a $250,000 loan to save the former Brick House property on Liberty Street could begin to take shape.

“I think we’re pretty close on the plan,” Tom Christeson, the developer of a Wendelboe Hotel project on Liberty Street, told the City Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday.

Authority member Gary Sawtelle presented Christeson’s proposed terms to the rest of the board: an interest rate no higher than 4.5%, but starting at 3% with adjustments over five and 10 years or fixed at 3.5%, as well as a term of 20 years and the first payment does not mature until six months after financing.

With two members absent, Sawtell said he had no “to know if logistically we can act on it today.”

Christeson told the authority he would not seek any additional financing for the Brick House property other than this loan.

Both parties agreed that it was acceptable to work out the terms by the May meeting, or via a special meeting if it was over sooner.

City staff also asked the RDA for a letter of support for the senior housing proposal at the corner of Liberty Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

City manager Nancy Freenock noted that the RDA, made up of widely differing members at the time, had agreed to transfer the properties in question to the developer in 2018.

“I tried everything I could think of to develop this batch,” she said, including a hotel proposal as well as contacts with mini-casino developers.

“They build projects that complement the community,” she added, noting that the city engineer and the director of public works both believe the existing building to the east of the lot “cannot be recovered.”

Authority members pushed back on the design, as evidenced by a concept render. Sawtelle said it looked like a college dorm while authority figure Holly LeMeur said it didn’t fit the “profile” for a historic city center.

“These concept drawings are often changed significantly after award,” said Kelley Coey, developer, Hudson Group, chief development officer. “Once assigned, we go back to the drawing board with the architect…on exactly what we want.”

Freenock requested a letter of support for the project, which is to be funded by state tax credits. Sawtelle said he was hesitant to endorse such a letter with two members absent from the meeting and said the matter would be brought back to the RDA next month once all members had received the information.

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