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Brownfield Developer Mantra: Patience is a Virtue

20 May 2019 10:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Steve Dwyer

The late great Tom Petty said it best in a song, “the waiting is the hardest part,” and welcome to the world of the brownfield practitioner.

You have a project where due diligence has been duly performed, and you have put all the ducks in proper order in a prudent, environmentally protective, and ethical way. You have performed necessary compliance with local officials, perhaps the checklist also folds in state requirements as well. But still waiting for approval to push the needle further on your vision remains a work in progress.

In Penn Yan, N.Y, a local developer is eager start some ground-breaking on a residential project at the former Penn Yan Marine Manufacturing property.

Keuka Moorings developer Chris Iversen is seeking to lock down approvals involving a Condominium Offering Plan from the New York Attorney General’s office that’s critical for the project to get off the ground.

In Penn Yan, Iversen said that the Condominium Offering Plan is detailed and thorough enough to appease decision-makers. It includes information about intended construction, shared property elements, cost to purchase a unit, annual operations and maintenance costs, the rules of governance, sponsor obligations and the purchase process.

Iversen said the Keuka Moorings Plan discloses the brownfield history of the property, and the restrictions and obligations for future use of the property. Other information includes the developer’s experience, quotes from insurance providers, and more. All of the information must be made available to potential buyers.

“It is the AG’s responsibility, not to pass judgment on the worth of the unit, but to gauge if the Offering Plan fully discloses all the information necessary for a buyer to make an informed decision and the attendant risks,” he explained in an email to the AG’s office.

He also wrote: “We suspect there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of our project, wherein we are offering three different models for sale, models of different sizes, interior layouts and prices, which buyers may select to locate on any of our 42 lots. We don’t know how to answer (the) demand to know the total cost of the project since we don’t know the makeup of the units that will be bought, and we don’t know how to respond to (the) demand to know the month, day and year when the project construction will be completed since we don’t know how quickly the market will absorb the units.”

No doubt, the local and state officials have their own vetting to do, with viable concerns about any major initiative. And at press time, obtaining the state of New York’s input about the Keuka Moorings Plan wasn’t available.

Iversen had reached out to Penn Yan Village and Yates County officials this spring to garner support that came in the form of letters to the AG’s office around the project, which has been stalled for over a year while Keuka Outlet Development seeks approval.

No doubt that a protracted timeline of the Penn Yan redevelopment is a similar narrative that a good number of New York developers can empathize with. The key is to add to the vision of the project, some additional levels of perseverance and resilience. We will provide updates on the Keuka Moorings project as they materialize during the summer. Stay tuned.

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