Monday, March 03, 2008

City, meet lawsuit; Friends, meet real world

Given the positively shameless misinformation that has recently passed as news coverage on the Upper Fort Garry issue, I felt it was appropriate to transcribe in full the Executive Summary of Heritage Landing's submission to the Downtown Development Committee, which they will make tomorrow, March 4, 1:30 P.M. West Committee Room, City Hall.

This Summary can be viewed in .pdf format here
Executive Summary

Submission by Heritage Landing Inc.
100 Main Street, Winnipeg
March 4, 2008

To: Standing Policy Committee on Downtown Development ("Committee")

Re: Purchase and Sale Agreement - Heritage Landing Inc. and the City of Winnipeg

1. Heritage Landing Inc. (part of the Crystal Developers Ltd. family of companies) ("Heritage") and the City have entered into a binding Agreement of Purchase and Sale dated October 2, 2007 for the purchase and sale of Parcel A as depicted on the attached diagram. [See below]

2. The new eastern boundary of Parcel A is set back from the western wall and bastion of Upper Fort Garry in order to meet the requirements of Manitoba Heritage Resources. Parcel A is not located on the former site of Upper Fort Garry. That old fort site was principally located on Parcel B (see attached diagram), the adjacent curling club site and portions of Main Street. The development of Parcel A in no way precludes the re-development of Parcel B and the curling club site for the purpose of an interperative centre.

3. Heritage respectfully submits that when at its December 13, 2007 meeting the Committee unilaterally introduced the new conditions in favor of the Friends of Upper Fort Garry effectively pre-empting the sale of Parcel A to Heritage and granting to Friends an option to acquire Parcel A, the Committee acted contrary to the process outlined in the City's Invitation for Expression of Interest and in contravention of the terms of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

4. Notwithstanding the Committee's decision to introduce the Friends Conditions, Heritage decided to cooperate by allowing Friends the opportunity to see if there was the political and public will to raise the required funds to develop the site, subject always to the amounts and deadlines imposed by the Committee as part of the Friends Conditions.

5. The Agreement of Purchase and Sale was amended by the terms of an Amending Agreement between the City and Heritage dated January 23, 2008 to reflect the Committee's decision to grant Friends the right to acquire Parcel A, subject to satisfaction of the Friends Conditions, and to allow the sale of Parcel A to Heritage to proceed at the reduced purchase price should the Friends Conditions not be satisfied in whole or in part.

6. The Amending Agreement specifically provides that if the Friends Conditions are not satisfied, the sale of Parcel A to Heritage at the reduced purchase price proceeds in accordance with the terms of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

7. Friends' entitlement to acquire Parcel A arises out of and is subject to a decision made at the political level and there is subject to political process which well allow for motions to recind previous decisions. Heritage's right to acquire Parcel A relies upon and is subject to a legal process and legal documentation in the form of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the Amending Agreement which are binding upon both Heritage and the City. There is no legal entitlement on the part of the City to unilaterally rescind or amend those Agreements. To suggest that this right exists on the part of the City is to contravene basic principles of contract law and undermines the very integrity of the marketplace which can only function properly when parties to agreements consider themselves bound by them and act in accordance with their terms.

8. Heritage has in good faith cooperated with the City by allowing the City to change the deal and give Friends the opportunity to acquire Parcel A subject to Friends satisfying objective and quantifiable conditions by specific deadlines. It is not prepared to stand aside and agree to any further changes or to be deprived of its legal entitlement to acquire Parcel A should the Friends Conditions not be satisfied.

9. Heritage has expended significant time and money consulting with its architects, archaeological experts and City and Provincial officials to ensure that its proposed development of Parcel A complies with the requirements of Manitoba Heritage Resources and respects the historical significance of the Upper Fort Garry site adjacent to Parcel A. It is committed to building a first class, privately-funded residential apartment building on Parcel A that will ultimately contribute to the City's realty tax base and effectively promote the City's plans to revitalize the downtown area.

Respectfully submitted,
Heritage Landing Inc.
Per: "Rubin Spletzer" President

One thing that has yet to be brought up is the issue of parking at this world-class heritage park and interperative centre. If is to be such a destination, where would cars be parked? Nearby parking lots are small and few, which defies local sensibilities on the issue of parking, and the acres and acres of parking lots at The Forks are perhaps too far for the average Winnipegger, particularly (and understandably) in inclement weather.

Perhaps the reason the Friends--oddly appearing to be a group without deep pockets--require all of Parcel A for a mere interperative centre, while Heritage Landing Inc. is able to built a mid-rise apartment building on that same site, and not simply take the portion of the Curling Club site that is outside the old Fort's footprint, is because they will need part of Parcel A for surface parking facilities.


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