Monday, August 10, 2009
The Way of All Flash
It was in 2007 that flashy would-be developer Tracy Hoskins got everyone's attention with his scheme to bulldoze the trees and put in a warehouse near the Finger Park neighborhood. A couple of lawsuits and unanimous denial by the Zoning Board put a stop to that one, but Tracy was undaunted.
That same year, Tracy set out to convince the City of Johnson that prime development land near Joyce Boulevard was a blighted area qualified for a Tax Increment Finance District, a private development funded with property tax dollars that would otherwise go for Fayetteville schools and local government. The UA's Kathy Deck told the Johnson Mayor Lonnie Barron and the City Council that the Hoskins project could mean $500,000 in sales taxes for the city, so they fell into line and voted themselves a TIF District for Hoskins and his project called The Steps at Joyce. Mayor Barron was gleeful about all the sales tax revenue he would have to spend.
Now, in 2009, nothing has happened. Mayor Lonnie Barron laments, "We were hoping he'd develop it or sell it to someone who would develop it. That would mean a lot to us. Can you imagine? All that land, right next to Steele Crossing." But it's not going to happen anytime soon, although Hoskins says he is still moving forward on the project, just like John Nock says Fayetteville will someday have a fancy hotel.
Hoskins is now facing his third lawsuit over the property. Ronald Standley, one of the property owners who backed the TIF project and sold the land to Hoskins, is now suing because he says Hoskins has defaulted on payments. "I just don't want to get ruined by this," Standley said. "I don't like to sue people, but I didn't know what else to do. I don't want a penny more than he owes me, but I don't want a penny less."
Hoskins says he doesn't want to talk about it without talking to a lawyer. And the City of Johnson's ill-advised TIF bonds? Mayor Barron says, "We haven't and don't plan on selling any as far as anything I've heard." Well, Lonnie, who would you be expecting to tell you that you were planning on selling TIF bonds? Tracy Hoskins? John Nock? Kit Williams?
Bob Caudle had the story on this, and I look forward to his keen analysis in his column.