The proposal by Judge Development Corp. to buy Troy City Hall has been getting quite a bit of attention this election year. Mayor Harry Tutunjian has been absolutely beaming with pride that he was able to arrange such a deal. For one thing, City Hall is a mess, and any administration would be eager to unload it. Another, the dollar amount that JDC is offering is impressive, considering that City Hall has pretty much been on the market since a week after it was built. Now it is up to the City Council to decide whether or not to move forward. And as much as none of them want to stand in the way of Troy making good money for a bad building, there are still some dogging questions.
A quick run down of the deal: JDC has offered to buy City Hall and the property it sits on, for $2.25 million, with plans to demolish it and build in its place a mixed-use building. The deal is contingent on Troy in turn buying the Verizon building at 1776 6th Ave. from JDC for $2.25 million. People call it a swap. It's not. It is what the administration's calling a "dual sale and purchase."
Before the exchange of these millions takes place, the city will move its offices into the Verizon building, paying JDC $16,000 per month in rent. In turn, JDC will lease the old City Hall building for $1 a year, with the understanding that within five years, it will exercise its option to purchase the property. At that time, Troy will purchase the other building at 1776 6th Ave., and JDC will reimburse the city for its total lease payments.
On Sept. 19, the Times Union ran an article about the potential sale of Troy City Hall to Judge Development Corp. The last graph of that article stood out, stating that the administration had found that the building and adjacent parking structure to be surplus properties. Democratus over at the Troy Polloi picked up on this and ran with it.
How many of you have ever wondered how Troy sells it's surplus property? Neither have we. Nonetheless, here we go. . .
Today, we'll take a quick peek at Section 83 of the Code: Surplus Property.
Democratus goes on to explain what surplus property is and in what ways surplus property must be dealt with when a municipality wants to sell that property, specifically in the terms of the Judge proposal. Jeff Buell, the director of Public Information, is quick to point out to Metroland, however, the city has not designated City Hall surplus property. At least not yet.
The City of Troy has not designated City Hall as surplus property. When a lease is signed with Judge Development for 1776 Sixth Avenue, only then will City Hall be surplus property.
In an e-mail interview, Democratus offers an explanation as to the city would need, or want, to designate the building as surplus.
Under the 'surplus propery' provision, which is not the same as 'property no longer needed' in C-73 paragraph, there's no requirement that property be disposed of for fair market value. Property can be sold in a private sale and not necessarily to the highest bidder. That's important here because most of us are carrying in our pockets more than Judge Development will pay in rent over the next five years.
Remember, JDC is leasing the City Hall building and property for $1 a year for up to five years.
Secondly, the Administration wants to use Restore New York grant monies to demolish city hall and the parking garage for the private developer. Restore NY grants cannot be used for municipal property being used for municipal purposes. I believe that by declaring the property 'surplus' they believe they can use that grant money because the property is now 'surplus' and not being used for city purposes.
The guidelines for applying for a Restore NY can be downloaded here—Download restoreNY_guide.pdf— and yeah, it does look like the building would need to be designated surplus in order to apply for this grant. According to the guidelines:
Municipalities, defined as cities, towns and villages, are invited to submit a Request for Funding Proposal for projects to demolish, deconstruct, rehabilitate and/or reconstruct vacant, abandoned, condemned and surplus properties. Additionally, funds can be used for site development needs related to the project including, but not limited to water, sewer and parking. Rehabilitation of municipal buildings for municipal reuse is not eligible for Restore NY funding.
Democratus has a couple other solid posts concerning this deal, so check them out.