City, developer at impasse hours before Village at Rio Rancho OK’d
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Scant hours before Rio Rancho city councilors approved a tax incentive for an Uptown-style retail development, agreement on the deal looked shaky.
City staff and the California developer behind the proposed $103 million Village at Rio Rancho project were at loggerheads over details like financial guarantees and timelines.
A last minute face-to-face meeting between city staff and Geringer Capital’s vice president brought resolution.
The deal councilors unanimously approved Dec. 16 allows Geringer Capital to cover infrastructure costs by recouping a portion of gross receipts taxes generated from the movie theater, shops and hotels it plans to build on a site just north of where Presbyterian Healthcare Services is building a hospital.
Infrastructure work is expected to begin in July and be complete by spring of 2011. Construction on the commercial buildings could then begin in the fall of 2011.
Lawyers representing Geringer first presented the development proposals to councilors in August. But a vote on the tax issue was postponed several times while negotiations continued during the fall.
Two days before the eventual vote, the city and the developer were far from reaching an agreement, according to documents obtained by the Journal through a public records request.
“Unfortunately, we are quite a ways apart on the SIA (subdivision improvement agreement),” City Manager James Jimenez wrote in an e-mail to Geringer Capital President Robert Geringer on Dec. 14.
The e-mail expressed concerns over changes Geringer wanted to make to the agreement to protect the company’s interests. The city had proposed some revisions to address the concerns.
“If this is not acceptable to you then it appears that we have reached an impasse,” Jimenez wrote.
The city also wanted assurances on the timeline to complete realignment of an arroyo that bisects the development site because it would affect the adjoining Presbyterian hospital property.
In his response to Jimenez the next day, Geringer said, “James, it appears that most of these issues are arising from the City’s demand that we provide security for work on our property which we have no obligation to complete.”
Geringer said his company needed protections for the commitment it was making to the city. He stressed the company’s desire to build the development but added, “We are fast approaching the end of our ability to help the City.”
To keep the deal afloat, Geringer Capital vice president Andrew Feola flew in from Los Angeles. He arrived at mid-day on Dec. 16, just hours before the council’s scheduled meeting.
Jimenez said Wednesday that talking with Feola produced a compromise that satisfied both sides.
“It’s often a lot easier to understand people’s positions when you are meeting face to face as opposed to trying to parse the words over the phone or through e-mail,” Jimenez said in a phone interview, adding that he wasn’t worried the deal would fall through but was concerned that the vote could be further delayed.