Marina District still on hold

SANDUSKY City manager Matt Kline has put the "brakes' onthe Marina District project for
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



City manager Matt Kline has put the “brakes” onthe Marina District project for financial reasons.

Matt Kline told city commissioners Monday night that high costs associated with the public improvement portion of the Marina District’s first phaseforced him to reexamine how the project will becompleted.

“I was not comfortable with how the publicimprovement portion part of the project wasfront-end loaded,” Kline said.

Commissioners appeared frustrated by Kline’s update and passed a motion asking the city manager to provide them with a more definitive update on the project and a pre-development agreement.

Kline is exploring moving the proposed hotel to where the current city hall stands.

Doing so would decrease the amount of public improvement money needed for the first phase of the project, he said.

“We would be able to tackle the project from the public standpoint at a lesser cost up front,” Kline said.

Building the hotel first, Kline said, would allowthe city to collect taxes from Tax Increment Financing for the deal, and that money could then be used for the more expensive public improvements.

Kline had planned to present a working draft ofthe Marina District Development agreement between the city and developer John Eymann at Monday night’s meeting.

“I do not have an agreement,” Kline told thecommissioners.

Contrary to rumors, plans for the hotel and a mixed-used area including condominiums, restaurants and shops are not dead, Kline said.

“The hotel is not dead, the condo is not dead,” he said.

However, the developer must have some type of agreement with the city before he can begin selling condominiums and seek financing.

The first phase of the project calls for building the hotel, the condos and shopping areas.

Commissioner Dave Waddington was not happy with Kline’s news.

“I’m not comfortable with this,” Waddington said. “This was going to kick-start and turn Sandusky around.”

Commissioner Don Kaman said the city would be better served finishing some of the projects it already has undertaken.

“We’ve got all these projects started, but we’re not finishing them,” Kaman said.

Sandusky resident Sharon Johnson reacted with anger when she learned of the snag in the Marina Project.

“We are in way over our heads in this. This is ridiculous. I’m embarrassed,” Johnson said.

Someone promised us pie in the sky ... when you start working the figures you don’t have the money,” Johnson said.

Voters approved the project in November by 253 votes. The proposed Marina District project includes the redevelopment of the Battery Park, city hall and former Surf’s Up properties to include about 300 residential condominiums, retail space, a hotel and a marina. The project also calls for the preservation and enhancement of public park space and waterfront access, according to city leaders and the developer.