Tuesday night, Port Clinton City Council moved forward with an ordinance that puts the development of Waterworks Park back on the front page. The ordinance authorizes the city to enter into an agreement with the Los Angeles legal firm of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler and Mitchell to assist the city in finding a developer at the site.
The ordinance came out of the Planning and Development Committee chaired by Deb Benko. Following the abrupt withdrawal by the Indiana developer Puller Group in early 2008, many local leaders and Council members started looking for a way to revive the project that had been on ice since the banking crisis of 2008.
Benko said Council first became aware of the LA law firm shortly after Puller Group pullout. The law firm is not a development contractor, but it specializes in putting projects and developers together.
“They have a huge base of contacts,” said Benko. “They have been involved in developments across America and around the globe. They proposed a two-step process by which we first send out requests for qualifications (RFQs) to developers from everywhere. They then hone down that list to selected developers who seem most qualified and send out requests for proposals (RFPs).”
According to the “scope of services” proposal from the law firm, following the RFQ and RFP process at least three and no more than five developers who would be appropriate partners for the City in the development of the project would be identified. With the consent of the city, the firm would then make the first contact with the developers and participate in the review of their RFP responses and any interviews.
When asked if the original criteria points that were established during the long and controversial 2006-2007 battle would still apply, Benko noted that all previous criteria would be considered.
“One thing I can tell you, we are not going to do any more site studies,” Benko stated emphatically. “We believe this firm has the experience to help the city move forward toward connecting us with a substantial investment.”
JMBM is seeking a $10,000 retainer to start the process going. They have assured city officials that their total expense will not exceed $25,000.