Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Have Confidence Man

Why was I not excited when I read in this morning's local newspaper that developers "hope to turn dirt by the end of the year for SouthPass, a city-sized development of more than 3,600 homes, a commercial core, public school, churches and a 200-acre community park?" Partly because there are still some serious questions about the whole project, and partly because we are suffering Promise Fatigue from the developers involved.

The article was quoting the ever-optimistic John Nock. He is the same developer that in 2005 sold the city on creating a Tax Increment Finance district to issue millions of dollars worth of bonds, acquire prime real estate, tear down the old Mountain Inn, and give him the land for a mere song. He told everyone that he was going to build a fancy hotel there, but it never happened. Some think he's just making payments for liquidated damages until the real estate market recovers so he can flip the property and walk away with millions. The only thing I know is we now have a big hole uglier and more blighted than the old Mountain Inn.

Now, to make matters worse, Mr. Nock tells us that Hank Broyles is now part of the SouthPass group of developers. That would be the same Hank Broyles who in 2005 was telling us how great his Aspen Ridge project would be. He had this big party where Mayor Dan Coody stood up and bragged about how wonderful it was. The only thing I know is we now have a big treeless red dirt mud hole and serious problems that did not exist before.

So, excuse me for not being overjoyed by this news that Nock and Broyles will soon be turning dirt out west of I-540. If the city approves this scheme, I damn sure hope they get a performance bond on these two promising developers this time.

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