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Centre City Development Corp. Chairman Fred Maas opposes the idea of the city agreeing to pay developer Gerding Edlen’s expenses if a deal to build a new City Hall complex falls apart during negotiations.

“At least from my perspective, it’s an absolute non-starter,” Maas said in an interview yesterday.

CCDC’s board is slated to vote next week on a recommendation to the City Council about the project. The city can either hold off on building a new City Hall or enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Gerding Edlen.

In an e-mail last week, Gerding Edlen’s Tom Cody spelled out the “basic business points” the company would want in a negotiating agreement. Among them, the city would have to pay for the study of new alternatives that weren’t part of the original proposal, such as including a library in the plans.

Cody also said the city should pay a “break-up fee” to reimburse Gerding Edlen for its expenses incurred during the negotiation if the city breaks off talks.

Maas said such an arrangement creates a false incentive for a party to keep negotiating simply to get its costs reimbursed.

“If you’re expecting to get your costs reimbursed, forget it — it’s a nonnegotiable,” he said.

Cody wouldn’t say whether his company would go forward with an exclusive negotiating agreement without that provision, saying he has to talk to the city. The terms of the negotiating agreement would be finalized only if the City Council decides to move forward on the project.

But Cody said it’s not in his company’s best interest to draw out the negotiating process to receive reimbursement.

“That’s not profit,” he said. “That’s just actual costs.”

RANI GUPTA

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