Potentially contaminated sites could still be good for ballpark construction


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Submitted: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 3:24am
Updated: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 3:44pm
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — According to experts, there are currently 80 to 90 potentially contaminated properties in the Wilmington area, also known as brownfield sites. The City of Wilmington held a public informational meeting Tuesday night on its Brownfields Assessment Project. Two of the properties are being considered by the city to build a minor league ballpark on the land.

City Councilman Kevin O’Grady says he feels pretty comfortable that the considered ballpark sites will work out, even with the environmental issues.

According to the city’s website, brownfield sites include, but are not limited to sites contaminated by controlled hazardous substances and sites contaminated by petroleum or a petroleum product. For more than a century, much of the area was used for shipping. Much of what was stored there ended up leaking into the ground.

The old Almont property, which is now owned by Chuck Schoninger and located along the downtown riverfront, has been defined as a brownfield site since 2008 and is being considered by the city to build a minor league ballpark on the land. Council approved an agreement between Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta Braves to build the stadium last week. According to Sam Watson, NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Brownfields Manager for the Wilmington region, the land has been in the process of redevelopment for a while and all contaminants have been identified.

“There’s been soil testing, ground water testing, sediment testing in the water, surface water testing,” Watson explains.

He says the property is completely safe to build a baseball stadium.

“Because it’s a brownfield site, it’s a beneficial site to choose,” Watson says. “It’s already pre approved for a ballpark.”

As far as cost goes, Watson says because it is a brownfield site, the city would have liability protection for cleanup. Councilman O’Grady says clean up costs are already built into the $6 million allotted for acquiring the land to build the ballpark, but also admits there are no certainties that it will be enough to cover all costs.

WWAY also reached out to Councilwoman Laura Padgett for comment. Padgett was the only council member to vote against approving the ballpark agreement. She did not return our call.

Last year the city received $400,000 from an EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant, $200,000 for Hazardous substance sites assessment and $200,000 for petroleum contaminated sites.

55 Comments

  • Vog46 says:

    Has an application pending as a brownfield site:

    http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20120930/ARTICLES/120939992/-1/news01?Title=City-securing-two-options-for-baseball-field-site

    “The Sawmill Point property has an application in for a brownfield designation, Caudle said.”

    Sawmill Point LLC was formed in June of 2012 and its Manager is Patrick Melton of Charlotte according to the Secretary of States page.

    Vog

  • Sidney William says:

    With our planet presently becoming developed with everything being done at such alarming speed, many people have lost the power to be patient. We have extremely short tempers, and the least little issue will usually get us mad. Simply pay attention to people waiting on a queue at the supermarket and how impetuous a lot of them can get while standing to be settled up if it gets more than usual.

    Accidentally cut someone off in traffic and they will begin honking their horn and cussing to you. Road rage remains to be a huge problem on our roads nowadays.

    For those who are living in an absolute full surrender with the Lord where He is now the One who is in total influence over your life together with the direction it is currently moving, among the first factors one can find is the fact that God typically has a slower way of fixing everything in ones life.

    If you can’t realize how to conform to His slower style of doing things in your life, you could get yourself knocked out of one’s divine path with Him when you get a bit too eager and attempt to make things be done before these are prepared to happen on His specified schedule

    These are some actual situations in which you’ll need to possess good patience with the Lord until He brings those blessings into your life.

    1. Waiting for Him to give the person He will want you to marry in this life.

    2. Anticipating Him to relieve you of a health problem or perhaps disease.

    3. Expecting God to unleash you straight to His actual calling for your life.

    4. Waiting for Him to advance you into the succeeding new job He will want you to acquire.

    5. In case you have just been terminated, awaiting God to guide you to the next new work He may desire you to have.

    6. Waiting for God to put you out from an awful litigation you may be having.

    Again, there are lots of stuff where you will just need to wait for Him to create things manifest. And when you’re anticipating Him to make all of it come to pass, you should rely on your patience to make sure you do not get all furious and then be convinced to want to make it happen before it is prepared to be delivered into your life.

    Seeing that God is perfect, then he will forever know exactly the best time to give some kind of reward to your life. And our responsibility is generally to hold the patience to wait this over with Him.

    For those of you who are having problems with ones own degrees of patience, and you are being too antsy and even impatient while anticipating God to create specific things take place in your life, what you should do is go before the Lord in prayer. and request Him to unlock the patience of the Holy Spirit within your personality being one of His 9 fruits to make sure you do not let your own impatience pull you into big trouble with Him.

    With all of us surviving in an extremely busy world, we all have to have the patience of the Holy Spirit operating through us so and we don’t become all bent out of shape far more than all the things that fails in our lives.

    Simply talk to the Lord for this kind of divine help, and He’ll be very willing to help you out, as one of His greatest and priority objectives for all of us would be to sanctify us and share many of these 9 fruits into the roots of our attitude.

    Written by Hanna, hope you like this post and here are 2 more that i have just currently read and liked http://www.bible-knowledge.com/story-of-moses/ and http://www.bible-knowledge.com/sanctification-article/.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    Has someone finally started reading these posts?

    I saw in the printed media that the city is considering an alternate site on the river. Sawmill POint Marina property which is apparently adjacent to the Holmes Bridge.

    Reported purchase price is $1.5 million less than the site near the convention center, aka White Elephant.

    Still requires referendum approval regardless of site finally chosen.

    Wonder how the ball park proponents will react to a change in location?

    Conversely, opponents will continue to oppose the use of property tax increase to fund this potential albatross.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    you may have looked at the wrong entity on the Secretary of State’s website.

    I believe Sawmill Point, LLC was formed in 2006.

    And surprise, David Spetrino, Jr is the Manager/Member.

    Isn’t he the same guy who holds a portion of the second deed of trust on the other site?

    I guess he’s covering all bases.

    I wonder if Schoninger will squeal on this or continue to remain silent?

  • SurfCityTom says:

    enough voters will catch on to the manner in which these “insiders” have tried to stack the deck so they win no matter which parcel is selected. The key to their success and profit is for the city to pay for the land with property taxes paid; in many cases paid by those who live outside the city and can not vote on the referendum.

    It’s unfortunate the DA or AG can not be encouraged to look into this in a more timely manner so all of the skinny is outlined for all of the voters.

    One other thing. Have you noticed the sounds of silence? Certain individuals seem to have gone into a burrow.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    is Colorado based. I got the reference from the Bankruptcy case file which is online and is a mattrer of public record.

    I’m still waiting for someone to admit they were compensated for the USA Invest video or come out and admit they did it free of charge as a means of promoting the city and county.

    And, I still believe the County should immediately commence action to foreclose on the property for unpaid taxes if that is what the 5 year payment refence concerned

    And you’re right; it is getting deeper.

  • Vog46 says:

    Both parcels have pro’s and con’s

    Schoningers piece is bigger and someone already knows the degree of pollution.

    Sawmill is further away from down town requiring Riverwalk to be extended much further and access to the Holmes bridge to go west into Brunswick might be problematic because it’s so close.

    But look at it this way. They could use Sawmill and turn around and say “no” to the public park as a money saving idea – use the excuse of it’s too small. (Schoningers land is 8.5 acres, Sawmill is “almost” 8 acres).

    Sawmill to me eliminates any thought of people walking anywhere. People are basically lazy. It also puts the game attendees closer to MLK and the Holmes bridge to get away from down town rather than go to down town.
    Then there’s “light pollution” mentioned in the NSS report. Picture you’re driving over the bridge toward Wilmington and right at bridge level you have banks of outfield lights for the stadium. Light pollution BTW was a “negative” against putting the stadium along Eastwood road……….

    Since I don’t support taxpayer funding neither site is right with me.
    I do however have another site picked out……..

    Vog

  • SurfCityTom says:

    all bets.

    Now the question to be asked is which parecl sale will be more beneficial?

  • SurfCityTom says:

    I-95 in Richmond when their team is playing at the Diamond. And they are 2 blocks off the interstate; and the lights are still distracting.

    I note again, the sounds of silence from the Proponents.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    an additional income stream which will somehow flow to Mandalanta.

    Retrieve a home run ball hit into the river, and avoid providing alligator patrol with some extra protien, and you will get a free autographed picture of the ground breaking.

    Would not surprise me to see the home plate with the river at its rear. Imagine all of the balls hit out of the ball park and their impact on the White Elephant and the cars of patrons who will likely pay $8 just to park for the ball game.

    Vote No for a city funded construction of an albatross.

  • Vog46 says:

    Do you have a link to the bankruptcy filing you refer to?

    Thanks
    Vog

  • Vog46 says:

    Yes Paragon is Colorado based and I saw that on the Colorado Sec of states corporations page.
    Michael Cook is a managing member of that LLC

    He is also listed as a member of Riverfront Holdings II

    So Mr Cook is either a member or Managing member of Paragon, and Riverfront Holdings II, and Sawmill Point.

    Thats “curious”

    Vog

  • Vog46 says:

    Is my sense of direction messed up? In all the videos they keep saying hit a home run in the stadium and it goes into the River.

    yet when you look at the artist drawing of the plans it would be a foul ball that goes into the river not a home run. (looking from home plate to Center field points towards 3rd St, or away from the river…….)

    Just a quirk I happened to notice

    Vog

  • Vog46 says:

    gets deeper.
    If they build it near the Homes Bridge the Riverwalk extension (something they desperately want to do) will cost MILLIONS.
    This would include bulkhead work from where it ends now right to the Holmes bridge.
    This of course is NOT included in “the deal”, but, like the public park, is separate.

    Everybody got their waders on because it’s beginning to pile up here.
    Tom, I did some digging through the CO Secretary of States office and could find no mention of Mr Cook in the Paragon filings.

    Vog

  • Vog46 says:

    My mistake. (mea culpa)
    The members appear to be Steven Shuttleworth(35%), David White(35%),
    Michael Cook of Colorado Springs CO(15%), then Peter Fensel (5%), George Laney(5%), and David Spetrino(5%). This was an old filing and the ownership percentages may have changed.

    Cook is the only out of town person involved. Isn’t there a Colorado LLC or corporation involved in something else too?

    As for Schoninger – what can he say? These guys are offering slightly less land for a 25% discount over Schoningers property.

    thanks for seeing the error

    Vog

  • SurfCityTom says:

    Paragon is Colorado based and holds the first deed on SChoninger’s albatross.

    This gets funkier with every new day.

    On another note, you will recall a reference to 5 years worth of payments to be made to New Hanover County once the bankruptcy was approved.

    That was turned down some time ago. If the 5 years worth of payments referred to unpaid property taxes owed New Hanover County, it would seem sufficient time has passed for the County to foreclose for unpaid taxes.

    That would wipe out the first and second deeds of trust; and perhaps make the original proposed site more acceptable. Especially if any profit made from the sale of the parcel went to the County coffers rather than the beleagured owner.

    What about it County? Mr. Thompson, what do you think regarding unpaid property taxes?

  • Vog46 says:

    Tom-
    You do know what that would mean don’t you?
    Any monies saved from the $6M allocated for land purchase remediation goes into the stadium building fund.
    So if the land cost $1M the remaining $5M goes into the $31M stadium fund.

    “….. If the combined cost to the City of site acquisition and any remediation needed for site preparation is less than six million dollars ($6,000,000), the City shall contribute whatever portion of the $6,000,000 is not spent on site acquisition and such remediation to the project development budget for the Ballpark………”

    NOT FOR the attached public park
    For the stadium !!!!
    What a sordid mess this is.

    Vog

  • SurfCityTom says:

    I googled Zephyr Land Holdings and it was one of several items which came up.

  • Vog46 says:

    In spite of thousands of Kueblers posts to the contrary I have to wonder about some things.
    http://www.wwaytv3.com/2012/05/22/only-3-the-big-talker-fm-mayor-saffo-wont-support-baseball-proposal?page=1#.UGLuxY1lQ-o

    In that story we see our Mayor saying he can’t support $40M.
    7% later – he’s in full support of $37M.
    So did waiting make the deal sweeter or more SOUR?
    ********************************************
    In that NSS study ch 8 pg 103 we see the deal is for $400,000 per year with cost of living increases every year.
    Now we have a deal of lease with NO cost of living increase
    So did waiting make the deal sweeter or more SOUR?
    *******************************************************
    Mandalay tossed the city “a bone” by saying we’ll share naming rights over $325,000.
    From NSS Ch 8 pg 99:
    ”it is estimated that a new ballpark could generate approximately $270,000 in net naming rights revenue, increasing three percent per year.”
    So did waiting make the deal sweeter or more SOUR?
    ****************************************************

    Originally Chuck Kuebler said there would be a public park included in the deal.
    The latest deal says the park would be developed separately from the stadium and at city expense.
    So did waiting make the deal sweeter or more SOUR?
    ****************************************************
    So, all you supporters – how can you claim the deal got sweeter with every delay?
    Please show me through news articles and links how the current deal is sweeter than the original deal?

    And you folks wonder why we are so skeptical?
    Even YOU GUYS got duped.
    The PPP poll IMPLIED that a public park WOULD be part of this deal several of the questions dealt with that very subject.
    Now it’s separate?
    How disingenuous can the pro side get?
    How does it feel to get “used”? To be painted as not knowing what in the heck you’re talking about? How do you feel when you read the MOU and realize it trashes the NSS report and just about every darned post you guys have made claiming “OH it will include a park”, or “It will cost the city MUCH less than $31M” or “The stadium will generate revenues for the city”.
    If I were on the pro side I’d be pretty darned mad right about now.
    In the space of 5 short months we went from “It will cost the taxpayers nothing” to costing us, at a minimum, $58M?
    What kind of supporters are you?

    Vog

  • SurfCityTom says:

    I never criticize the negotiating power of folks who city slickered their way into an elected position.

    On the other hand, I do ask reasonable questions, which one would hope were asked by the elected officials before they signed off on the deal.

    One thing of note.

    Dukie, MrT and the other proponents have been awful quiet here of late.

    Do you think they got the message? Their words consistently come back to haunt them.

    Or perhaps they have just hunkered down until the next round of entitlements come out.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    convert a portion of the White Elephant, CC, to office space and ticket office? Exclude the rent from the basis on which the management company’s fee is based.

    At least puts a portion of the white elephant to use.

    If that works, convert another portion to a Wilmington Sports Museum.

    Than install a Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand. That would be a draw for Mr. Barfield when he comes down town. Once it opens, allow the City Negotiators to strike a deal for the National Hot Dog Eating contest. Plenty of room on the lawn facing the river.

    Next convert another portion of the white elephant to the NC Barbecue Museum. Have the city’s team of crack deal negotiators strike a deal with the Food Channel to televise the annual NC Barbecue Festival.

    Let’s keep thinking outside the box.

  • Katherine says:

    Ah, a *different* Mr.T. Cute, but much as I loathe the original, I can credit him with the ability to spell and use punctuation. Clearly, you are not he.
    Whatever little troll you may be, your referendum is going to get blown out of the water, sorry. That 80% against figure that keeps repeating itself in every survey done will be reflected in the voting results. I laugh at your “goal being met”, considering how hard the pro side worked to keep this OFF the ballot. Fail.
    I’m not sure why you try to lump all anti-stadium folks together politically. I voted for Obama the first time around, this time I’m voting for Gary Johnson, as I feel Obama hasn’t kept to his promises on too many issues. I see Romney as a buffoon who reminds me too much of our own Billy Saffo. If I had to guess, I would say Harper Peterson – who is strongly against the stadium deal – will be voting for Obama. The anti-stadium folks are about as politically diverse as it gets, but it’s good that you show your ignorance of them whenever you post.
    The “positive people who care about Wilmington” are right here. We set aside our own selfish wants, unlike the stadium fans, who want their toy and don’t care what it costs everyone else.
    Now, run along and find the REAL MrT, so he can tell us again how “It’s not about baseball”.

  • Mr.T says:

    It’s on the Ballot stupid. Our goal has been met. Talk time is over. Time now to vote. Me and Duke may have both reached the same conclusion.
    There is about eight of you on this sight that guess what, Your not in favor of Baseball or much of anything else. Now that the Presidential race in NC has swung toward Obama, you guys ought to join the Romney team since losing is one of your greatest assets. My attention has shifted to finding positive people who care about the future Of Wilmington. There are more of us out here than you would ever know.

  • Vog46 says:

    But 25 full time Mandalay employees working at the CC would constitute 1 event per day, 5 days per week times 52 weeks per year or 260 events according to the CC managers!
    Problem(s) solved !!!!!!!
    If they broke that group into 2 separate rooms she could say it’s 520 events !!!!
    You’re a genius !!!!
    Ah well….

    Vog

  • ChefnSurf says:

    You have become the poster boy for that expression “Hoist with his own petard” (Definition: to be harmed or disadvantaged by an action of one’s own which was meant to harm someone else)

    “There are more of us out here than you would ever know”:
    Are you referring to how many T’s “is” posting … or … Are you referring to the fact that outside of a few insiders, no one seems to know anyone else who’s actually in favor of a TAXPAYER FUNDED stadium ?

    Probably not a good time to ask about that PPP poll again, huh?

  • SurfCityTom says:

    throw out the race card?

    You can not give straight answers, so throw out personal insults.

    It’s on the ballot. But oh contraire, there is a need for more talk.

    Very simple solution; disclose all of the facts including the full costs to remediate the property. Even the City Council admits th amount included within the $6 million may not be sufficient.

    So come on Terry, talk straight. What’s the true cost to remediate?

    So far, about the only ones you have not pulled into your debate are J Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Hoffa, and Pee Wee Herman.

    As to being stupid. That’s a double edged sword.

    Even Forrest said “stupid is as stupid does”

    The stupid will be those who allow your pathetic, mindless personal insults to sway them from pursuit of the truth.

    And, the truth will come out.

    The stupid will be those who vote, blindly, for the referendum without full disclosure of the costs to remediate the property.

    Sorry Terry, but getting this toxic asset sold and off the books of some bank will not get you back into the banking industry.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    what’s your personal stake in this?

    Are you hoping to get another job in banking if you help the current mortgage holder unload this toxic asset? And Toxic is not a referral to the site contamination issues.

    You’ve enlisted everyone but J Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Hoffa, and Pee Wee Herman in your attempts to cram this over priced, river front acreage down the throats of the city at the expense of the city property tax payers.

    What next? Throw out a race card? That’s about the only one you have not played. I say that as you have made it very evident the truth will never issue from you onto a post.

    I have said from the very beginning, you and Dukie are doing far more damage to the hopes the proponents have of the city passing the referendum. Keep up the good work.

    You also clearly prove Forrest’s statement that “stupid is as stupid does”

    Keep on posting.

  • Guest Reply says:

    My suggestion of turning the Convention Center into a “Beagle Farm” still stands. At least the hounds would be under shelter.
    Instead of us all posting comparison comments (myself included), those of us Against this ballpark just post….”VOTE NO!!!”…and those in favor of it post “Vote No!!!” as well :-)

  • Rick Wilson says:

    “It’s on the Ballot stupid. Our goal has been met. Talk time is over. Time now to vote. Me and Duke may have both reached the same conclusion.”

    Mr. T, you sir are a liar. In case you didn’t read it the first time, I’ll say it again, you are a liar. It was never your intent to have this on the ballot. Duke aka Chuck Kuebler tried on several occasions to Convince the County Commissioners to join with the city to finance this project. Everything you have ever posted has been proven false. Your goal has been met? I don’t think Mandalay is still going to hire you when you get clobbered in November. If talk time for you is over…… SHUT UP! Your lies have only been exceeded by your arrogance. I do not think/hope that are very many others like you….people that lie instead of telling the truth, people that try to use arrogance instead of education. It is time for you to crawl back into the hole from where you came, and please do it silently…..

  • SurfCityTom says:

    the other; but I did not perform a complete title search.

    My amazement, candidly, was the Invest site with his Honor & Mr. Thompson both appearing.

    As I stated earlier, if they were compensated in any fashion, I think they have crossed the line.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    the bankruptcy file refers to 6.3 acres @ 111 Cowan Street.

  • Vog46 says:

    What about the alternate site?
    They call it the Dean Hardwoods site but is it owned by Dean Hardwoods? OR some other hastily formed LLC with nefarious intentions?

    Vog

  • SurfCityTom says:

    and perhaps it explains the reasoning for haste by the proponents for the ball park.

    In 2011, the 2010 bankruptcy filing was denied by the bankruptcy court. I got a head ache from reading it. But the issues appeared to be the close relationship between the owner of the property Zephyr Land Holdings, LLC and the lenders as well as inaccurate annual reports filed by the various entities with the North carolina Secretary of State.

    Now the court documents listed a $3 million first deed of trust held by Paragon Properties of Colorado. And then there was a $1.75 million second deed of trust held by David Spetrino, George Laney, & Peter Fensel.

    Without getting into a lot of details, you can google Zephyr Land Holdings and view the order, the Judge ruled there were inaccurate filings made with the NC Secretary of State; bankruptcy filings did not disclose the relationship of the three holding the second mortgage and River Front Holdings which somehow was engaged in all of this city slicker stuff.

    There was also reference to 5 years worth of payments to be made to New Hanover County to commence once the petition had been approved.

    Thus the bankruptcy petition was denied.

    But, it gets even deeper.

    Google USA INvest Co

    The items below came from their website; admittedly they may be a tad out of date. But the website is still up and offers some interesting tidbits.

    Very cute. If you are a foriegn investor, perhaps having difficulty bringing yourself and your family to this country, and you can lay $500,000 or more in an EB-5 government approved project, you, your wife, and all of your children under 21 can qualify for green cards to be issued within 6 months of your investment.

    And guess what, the project, which had been planned as a marina and hotel, is an EB-5 government approved project. So lay $500,000 down and you can get green cards and be on your way to citizenship.

    The only other project listed on the website is out in California.

    And guess what? The website makes no reference to the project being converted from a hotel and marina to a ballpark. I wonder if the ballpark is EB-5 approved?

    Check out the USA Invest Co website. Who is President of US INvest? Chuck Schoninger.

    Guess who does a very nice video presentation for investors to review? A certain city Mayor and a certain County Councilman who had been a City Councilman. Can you guess who they are?

    I wonder if the Mayor or Mr. Thompson received payments for their video appearance and support? I must say Mr. Thompson did a superb job of controlling his temper.

    If they did, should that relationship have been disclosed early on?

    Now given the Mayor’s support for the bond referendum, and his various positions as to what “he can live with”, would that constitute a conflict of interest?

    Watch that video. See the Chinese immigrant who is here on a Green Card and whose children, at the time of the production, were attending NC colleges on scholarships.

    If this is not a city slicker deal, I guess I don’t know what is.

    NO wonder so many are pushing for a toxic site to be sold and used as a baseball park.

    What a tangled web some can weave.

    Someone should ask the AG to look into this. I’m in Raleigh regularly; and I know him. Perhaps I’ll ask.

    People want to jab at Romney because his effective tax rate was 14%.

    At least he paid taxes.

    I wonder if this will explode before election day?

    And you know what, they can not deny the facts or the video existance. So bluster all you wish. Get red in the face.

    But truth will prevail.

  • Vog46 says:

    I can’t keep this straight.
    $3M is on the first mortgage
    Second one is $1.75M
    So, about $5M total.
    I wonder if this is why Shoninger said $6M is the lowest offer he could accept?
    Now, his hotel was NOT the same hotel as the attached hotel to the CC that Eaton wants correct?

    Vog

  • Carol Kramer says:

    I worked for a fortune 500 company when this scheme was uncovered:
    A label vendor had a closed door meeting with the head of purchasing. The vendor said he was going to add $.005 to the cost of each label. (This company bought 10’s of millions of labels/year.) The purchasing guy was the same guy who approved the purchase orders. When the the bills were paid, the vendor kicked back half of the overpayment to the purchasing guy. The purchasing agent and the vendor both got rich, the company lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    So I ask you, why would Wilmington pay $6,000,000 for contaminated property? Just asking because the deeds of trust total $4,750,000.
    (Noting that the deeds of trust are not necessarily what the property is worth, either.)

  • ChefnSurf says:

    Of course there has to be some logical explanation behind all the blather as to why certain proponents of this debacle are so illogically pushing forward, regardless of any objections. Why else would some of those proponents either withhold significant data or purvey “misinformation” so regularly during every step of this sordid process?

    Looks like some of those hidden reasons are beginning to become closer and closer to seeing the light of day.

    Nice digging Surfy!

  • Katherine says:

    “Councilman O’Grady says clean up costs are already built into the $6 million allotted for acquiring the land to build the ballpark, but also admits there are no certainties that it will be enough to cover all costs.”

    Does anyone remember the show “Fantasy Island”? Councilman O’Grady has taken up permanent residence there. He’s saying they’re going to buy the land for less than $6 million?

    Contamination issues aside, if that property has to comply with standard building requirements for flood plains, they’re going to have to haul in many, many tons of fill dirt. I had to do it on a higher piece of property, that was only 1/4 acre. It cost me over $10k, and that was 12 years ago. There is no way they can do the same on an area that large, and that low, for less than $400k.

    The City, as stated in the agreement, is responsible for coming up with any money above the $6 million allocated for land. The City is responsible for all infrastructure, remediation, site work, etc, etc. I think this thing would be over budget before they had their ground breaking ceremony.

    VOTE NO!!!

  • SurfCityTom says:

    the clean up costs are built into the $6 million purchase price.

    BUT, Mr. Watson “…admits there are no certainties that it will be enough to cover all costs.

    That sure is encouraging. And certainly misleading.

    That’s even worse than the local Mercedes Benz dealership advertising all vehicles today are $1. And then when you arrive, you find out there are charges for doors, tires, engines, and transmissions.

    At the dealership you can walk away. With this city council led crew, the City Property tax payers can not walk away if the referendum somehow passes.

    We built the cost of remediation in; but it may not be sufficient.

    There’s a better way.

    Vote NO on the referendum.

    And then allow the Ripken Group to continue its discussion with the County and build across the river.

    What’s the problem with this? Mandalanta can still operate a minor league franchise in the greater Wilmington market.

    Perhaps one day the real reason will come out as to why Dukie & MrT are so insistent on cramming that over priced, contaminated river front acreage down the City’s property tax payers throats.

    Ah well, Dante’s inferno awaits some.

  • Vog46 says:

    You should never criticize the negotiating prowess of our elected officials for they are the “Nabobs of negotiating”, the kings of critical thinking”……..
    I posted this on another blog regarding the “rent” payment. It bears repeating here as well:

    The New Deal calls for $500,000 per year but MINUS office space rent. Here’s a thought for you. The State Properties division expects to pay state lease rental rates on 300 sq/ft per employee at any leased office. This takes into account the actual office space, conference room etc.
    The state is VERY CHEAP on this allowance in private industry it may be more.
    Watch this:
    25 employees using 300sq/ft each = 7500 sq/ft of leased space.
    7500 X $15 sq/t = $112,000 per yer

    $500,000 – $112,000 = $388,000 actual lease payments.

    Now check this out:
    http://www.loopnet.com/profile/586130781/Donald-Harley-Jr/Listings/
    Please try to find a rate that comes anywhere NEAR the $15 per sq/ft rate in this deal compared to commercial RE rental rates in Wilmington.
    There are some premium spaces that are $70 to $100 per sq/ft.
    Now here’s a thought. Why include office space at all? Sure sell tickets at a ticket counter turnstile.
    But why not have Shoninger build a small office facility across the street from the stadium to house the offices? They would pay lease payments for that space in a separate deal – like the separate “public park”?
    That office space deal is one give away if you ask me
    *****************************************************

    I’m stunned at how cheap the rent is for offices.
    And Saffo is a real estate guy?
    Sheesh……….

    Vog

  • Rick Wilson says:

    “There’s been soil testing, ground water testing, sediment testing in the water, surface water testing,” Watson explains.”

    If the above statement is in fact true, then why can’t the costs be computed? Why hasn’t the public been told what kind(s)of pollution and how much. Why hasn’t the current owner been required to clean up the property?

    This is just one more item added to the mess that has become this “Stadium Deal.” According to the contract Mandalay has with the city, the city is responsible for any additional costs associated with the property. If the purchase/cleanup/preparation costs exceed 6 million, then the city pays. Where is this money going to come from? This is the same city government that could not afford a fire truck a short while ago. This is also the same city that currently pays its employees an average of 10% less than other cities in this area. Isn’t it time for the city to get their priorities in order?

    Asking the tax payers to fund baseball parks for billionaires, and to clean up properties for developers should never be what governments ask of their tax payers……

  • Katherine says:

    Well, guest, I see some Mittens Romney corporate welfare here, but either way, we wind up with the same result. They want to take money away from those of us who have to work hard just to cover our own necessary expenses, and give it to someone who doesn’t need it, for something speculative and unnecessary.

  • GuestVader says:

    Obama’s name always seems to come up in anything negative, these days. He has absolutely nothing to do with this fiasco. As for building a ballpark on contaminated soil, I suppose rules, regulations and laws do not apply to the wealthy.

  • guesty says:

    saffo has broken many promises yet still gets elected. He is at the point where he wants to see how far he can push and how much he can gain before we wake up and vote him out.

  • Guest111 says:

    Does Saffo and Company not understand there is an election to go through before this ballpark is a sure thing??? I think they are getting their carts WAY before their horses. I see some Obama arrogance in this.

  • Carol Kramer says:

    Help! I can’t find any property owned by Chuck Schoninger in New Hanover County in the NHC Property Records (on line). There are 3 properties for Zephyr Land Holdings. Strange history for 111 Cowan Street (only .84 acres):

    Sale Date Sale Price Grantee Grantor Book Page Sale Key
    21-NOV-07 $3,859,500 ZEPHYR LAND HOLDINGS LLC EIDE ALLEN CAROLE 5253 2893 427520
    21-NOV-07 $2,152,500 ZEPHYR LAND HOLDINGS LLC WATERFRONT LAND HOLDINGS 5253 2900 42752

    There are 12 pages for this property!
    Apppraised Value: $105,300

    Anyway, who (what entity) actually owns the old Almont property and what did they pay?

    “There’s been soil testing, ground water testing, sediment testing in the water, surface water testing,” Watson explains.

    Can the city put test results on line? Who paid for these tests, the taxpayer? Wasn’t there a MAJOR oil spill (over a million gallons) released on the property? I’d hardly call it a “leak.”

    Come on WWAY…we need your A game before we get A gamed out of tens of millions of dollars. Liability protection for the city from the Brownfield program only tells us that you can’t be sued for building on a known contaminated site. That’s a nice protection for the city. For the public, not so much.

  • Katherine says:

    Carol, how about Paragon Financial Investors? I see them listed for that address, as well.

  • Katherine says:

    Riverfront Holdings, LLC. They’re listed for Harnett St

  • SurfCityTom says:

    First, I would note I did not perform a title search for any of the properties you listed.

    I did however check records with the Secretary of State’s Office.

    River Front Holdings is an LLC established in 2006. Office location is 720 N Third Street, Suite 301. David Spetrino is listed as Managing Member of the LLC with a secondary address @ 10 Church Street.

    River Front Holdings, II is another LLC established in 2006 with a similar office address on N Third Street. Charles Schoninger is the Managing Member of the LLC. David Spetrino and Mike Cook ( from Colorado) are listed as Members of the LLC.

    Zephyr Land Holdings is another LLC established in 2007 with a similar office address on N Third Street; however the suite number is listed as 202 on State Records. And, Charles Schoninger is the Managing Member of the LLC.

    When you’re checking records at the court house or register of deeds office, be certain you have the correct entity listed.

    Good Luck as you join the effort to unravel the tangled web.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    you’re likely less confused than the ball park proponents who are unable to answer direct questions with direct answers.

    I wonder now when the Baseball Officials, who oversee baseball operations, will step in and say enough. You proponents and City Council have made this a mockery.

    And they have.

    It’s past time for a professional organization like Ripken Group to step onto the playing field and not have their efforts fettered by that ridiculous exclusive deal with Mandalanta.

    I’m still not certain what Dukie’s hype was on all of this; what was in the deal for him? As to MrT, he likely could not tell you.

  • Vog46 says:

    Even though there’s no specifics in the news article I feel much better.
    I still feel that the NSS study regarding the down town did point out the 2 most troubling aspects of the land.
    One its in a flood zone
    Two water table is a concern
    The question becomes is this a land acquisition thing or a construction problem? I suspect the city is ONLY responsible for making the land environmentally acceptable.

    Now, on the other hand how does the flood plain and water table affect construction costs? PPD spent over $1.5M on soil “Prep”
    The city – who will want to expand the Riverwalk will now have to concern itself with expenditures outside the ball park deal to include bulkheads at the river facing then building the walk itself.
    Additionally they now have to pay for the public park that is attached to the stadium property
    So that $37M is now a MINIMUM figure.

    O’Grady said the remediation costs are “built in” to the $6M allocated for the land.
    Shoninger has said $6M is his line in the sand for the asking price.

    Can anyone say DUH?
    I’m confused

    Vog

  • Guest 10101 says:

    Maybe it’s just me but that just doesn’t feel like a balanced equation. How could potential serious clean-up problems on brownfield site ever equate into it being a “beneficial site to choose”?

    “It’s already pre approved for a ballpark”? Proponets of a taxpayer funded stadium are now touting this project as a mult-use facility, not just a ballpark. Does that make it pre-approved for a cub-scout camporee (one of the crazy mult-use suggestions) or some other similar activity? Does that make it pre-approved for the proposed city park outside the stadium. Do serious clean-up problems make it a beneficial place for a family with small children to have a pre ball game picnic on the lawn?

    Again, maybe it’s me, but I just can’t seem to get comfortable with that.

  • Guestcleanup says:

    Why is the city not requiring the owner of the property to clean it up? This should have been done once it was found that it was a Brownfield. Why should the tax payers have to pay to clean it up. Let the owner do it then put it on the market or let the city condemn property it and take it.

    We should never pay for something that has problems and then expect the tax payers to repair it..

  • Vog46 says:

    Ripken will not step in nor will MiLB.

    I would suggest we wait.
    There’s a lot of talk out there that MLB (The majors) will expand by two teams possibly as early as next year. THE American League has 14 clubs and the National league 16 clubs and MLB wants to even this out.
    Who’s on the list to get a MLB team? How about Raleigh/Charlotte !! Those teams will need minor league ball clubs at ALL levels of play.
    This would make Wilmington a very big PRIME city for a team. 110 miles from the parent club? I could see someone thinking AA level ball here.

    But waiting is not on the pro sides horizon because they think like Wren does – “If it doesn’t happen now it won’t likely ever happen.”

    Arrogant but stupid
    We’ve had 3 inquiries or attempts since 1993? I see that as once very 6 years or so.

    Vog

  • SurfCityTom says:

    again the numbers come from the bankruptcy court file. Figure $4.75 million as the principal on the 2 mortgages. Unpaid interest since sometime in 2010. Throw in the 5 years of payments to New Hanover County; while never referred to as to nature of delinquency, I would think perhaps unpaid property taxes.

    It is my understanding his hotel was to be on the Brownfield plot which is now intended for a ballpark.

    I would still question the propriety of the Mayor making any statements pro or con if he was paid a fee by US Invest Co for vis video.

    They muddle on.

    But this is pretty sophisticated City Slicker stuff.

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