GARY — The city has reached a deal with a private redevelopment partner with ties to former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley that could impact a large segment of the city.
The Gary Redevelopment Commission on Friday quickly and without initial comment, approved an agreement with MaiaCo LLC. The quick approval upset several residents who attended the meeting and said the public should have been involved from the inception of a deal that could have a dramatic effect on the city.
Resident Ruth Needleman, who along with many other residents attended a community forum on the MaiaCo proposal Wednesday, characterized the action Friday as a “travesty of justice and democracy.”
She said people attending the forum were not told at that time that there would be a vote on the agreement Friday.
Redevelopment Director Joe Van Dyk said it is only the beginning of the process in which MaiaCo will be working with the city. He said there will be opportunity for the public to be involved in the process as it moves forward. The agreement calls for the company to create and implement a community outreach and development plan within six months.
Van Dyk and a representative of MaiaCo said the public-private partnership agreement is designed to implement plans that already have been created by the city, but which the city does not have the resources to fully implement.
The agreement calls for MaiaCo to provide $1 million worth of resources, which may include cash as well as in-kind contributions, by July 29, 2017. By July 29, 2036, the company is to have provided a cumulative value of $15 million in resources toward Gary’s revitalization strategy.
The agreement comes out of a proposal submitted to the development commission earlier this year. In the proposal the personnel roster, included Daley, architect Peter Ellis, Resolute Consulting Chief Executive Officer Greg Goldner, and Michael Reinhold, who has been a principal at Tur Partners LLC. Daley is executive chairman of Tur Partners.
Ellis is no longer with the group and Reinhold said Daley will only serve as an unpaid adviser.
Reinhold, who appeared at Friday’s meeting, said neither Daley nor his company’s will profit from the deal. Reinhold said he is no longer working for Tur and will instead be devoting his time to MaiaCo. He said he is looking for space to establish an office in Gary and could locate in the same building where the redevelopment commission currently is housed.
The plan involves the company helping the city acquire vacant and other properties sold at tax sales that can be used for future development. In its initial proposal, the company said it anticipated funding the acquisition of as many as 3,500 parcels via tax sale within the first 12 months, but that level of specificity is not in the contract approved Friday.
“There is roughly 12,000 parcels that consistently show up on the tax sale and those properties cripple the city in a lot of ways,” said Reinhold on Friday. “They are part of the blight issue, they prevent development, they absolutely diminish the tax base. So I think we are going to look in certain areas to help bring the resources for the development commission to start to acquire these parcels through the tax sale.”
MaiaCo will not own the properties, but will share in the profit from the sale or lease of the properties.
According to the agreement, the proceeds from the sale of any commission acquired property will be used first to reimburse MaiaCo for investments it has contributed. After that point, 65 percent of any remaining proceeds will go to MaiaCo and 35 percent to the commission. The same reimbursement formula will be used for leased property.
Reinhold notes the company has to meet specific milestones when it comes to the agreement. In addition to $1 million the first year, the company has to invest $2 million in resources by July 29, 2018, and $5 million by July 29, 2021. He said if the company doesn’t meet the milestones it will get nothing and the agreement will be terminated. He said, however, he is confident about meeting the milestones.
Reinhold said the company has “investors behind the deal” although he did not disclose who those investors were on Friday. He said the company “will continue to work with the city and as appropriate disclose those things.”