Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Ameritrust deal gets shakier by the day

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2008 at 3:02 PM

When Jimmy Dimora's at the negotiating table, it's rarely good for your wallet
The K&D Group’s offer to buy the old Ameritrust complex from the county is unraveling quickly. If you thought it unlikely that a private developer would pay $35 million for a set of long-vacant, asbestos-filled buildings — which happened to have sold for a mere $22 million three years earlier -- well, you were right. They won’t. K&D was the only company that submitted a bid for the complex, but both company and county seemed to be hiding a few critical details. Soon after the bid was accepted, the city started throwing multi-million dollar loans at K&D to subsidize its other downtown projects. It looked suspiciously like payback for covering a huge blunder by county commissioners, who bought the buildings intending to build new headquarters there, only to discover they didn’t have enough money to make it happen… Now, K&D is asking the county for a $15 million loan to help with the Ameritrust purchase. The commissioners discussed the offer in a private meeting last week, and haven’t announced a decision yet. But you can see where this is going. With no other buyers in sight, what choice do they have? Since the buildings have been vacant for years, the Second Coming may well arrive before another interested developer. Worse, when it comes to your money, commissioners tend to negotiate like Amy Winehouse on a bender. Look for the two parties to hammer out a deal within the next few weeks, after K&D makes a final offer of a pack of Skittles and an IOU written on a bar napkin. – Lisa Rab


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