July 23, 2016

Mostly sunny

Lack of quorum delays sale of Brunswick land

BRUNSWICK — City Council members hoped to approve the $1.8 million sale of city property at a special meeting Monday night, but with only five members in attendance, they didn’t have enough members to waive state law requiring three readings of all legislation.

The city plans to sell 18 acres of land at the south end of Brunswick Town Center and east of Brunswick Lake Parkway to McKinley Development Co.

The sale includes about half of the city property in that area. The rest of the land, along Plum Creek just east of Brunswick Lake, will remain in the hands of the city.

“This is a project we have been working on for a couple of years,” economic development manager Tim Smith said.

The city asked for proposal requests and received one from McKinley Development on Nov. 16, 2012. Since then, Council has met in executive sessions closed to the public to discuss the sale.

Smith said conversations between the city’s legal department and attorneys for McKinley have been ongoing since November to work out details of the contract.

According to the ordinance Council hopes to pass later this month, McKinley will develop three separate buildings on the site in three phases. The phases include luxury apartments, senior housing including independent and assisted living and a hotel.

Smith put the investments of the three buildings combined at about $40 million.

“They’re using most of the buildable property there,” Smith said. The remaining city parcel is considered wetlands and is mostly low-lying and adjacent to Plum Creek.

Smith said the company will study and survey the land it purchases, and if the land is solid enough, he said it’s possible it will build 100 luxury apartments.

The developer has yet to decide on what hotel chain it plans to bring to the city. Smith said the developers plan to bring a name-brand hotel, but likely will conduct a study first.

Smith said the city’s property was appraised at $1.7 million and he guessed the McKinley development group put in the higher offer of $1.8 million in an attempt to dissuade other potential buyers.

Over the last couple of years, Smith said there had been at least eight developers who expressed interest in the property. Council members gave the ordinance a first reading Monday and plan to vote on it at their next meeting scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Aug. 26.

Councilwoman Pat Hanek, at large, who serves as vice mayor, said she thinks the project can help breathe life into Brunswick Town Center. The shopping plaza, which includes Home Depot, Giant Eagle, and a mix of restaurants, has struggled to keep businesses in the smaller store-front shops along Town Center Boulevard — the buildings that were supposed to be the center of the development.

“I think it will help retail,” Hanek said. “Families visiting the apartments or senior homes will want to go out to eat. Maybe they’ll take a walk around.”

At Council’s meeting, the five members in attendance approved a motion to authorize the city to hire the Management Partners to help members find a replacement for City Manager Jim Lukas, whose last day in office was Wednesday.

A separate ordinance that would have set aside $31,788.47 for hiring a new city manager and for the extra expense of hiring Police Chief Carl DeForest as interim city manager could not be passed Monday because not enough Council members attended the meeting.

Councilman Vince Carl, 2nd Ward, said the ordinance would have made the monetary changes to the budget but the motion to hire Management Partners was all that was needed for the firm to begin its search.

“The search can start. The budget is just a formality,” Carl said.

The ordinance to adjust the budget also likely will be approved at the Aug. 26 meeting.

The adjustment includes an $18,900 flat fee for the services of Management Partners, according to a memo from Law Director Ken Fisher. The remaining $12,888 is to pay the expected cost of an additional $600 in DeForest’s weekly salary because he will continue as chief of police in addition to his city manager duties. It also will pay for pension adjustments and other fringe benefits.

DeForest has not earned additional vacation time because of his new position as interim city manager, but will have the option to carry over or trade in for cash up to three weeks of vacation.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.