Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Heritage House $16 Million Grant Application

I have had some inquiries about the Heritage House $16 million Grant Application.  I want you to know that I asked staff many questions during the city work session about any potential liability the city would have should this thing go south.  Here's what I was told by the director of the City of Albany's Community and Economic Development (or the "CED", a department of the city).

So far, the CED has only assisted the applicant with applying for the grant.  Staff time has been spent on that.  The applicant could not submit the application without CED approval due to the nature of this particular grant.

FYI, the city finance director tells me that CED funding comes 100% from outside sources like the state and federal government.  It is a 100% grant-funded city department.  It's budget has shrunk from $3.5 million in 2007/2008 to just over $2 million today. 

The CED director also told me that if the Heritage House grant were approved, a percentage of the grant would be paid to the CED to be sure the grant receipient complied with HUD regulations.  To secure that compliance, the CED would hold a second lien on the property.  I was told neither the CED or the city would be on the hook for any grant money.

Although it sounds like there MIGHT be no harm in the CED assisting with the grant application, I received some information about the architect and the property owner today that really concerns me.  Below is the email I just sent to staff and my fellow commissioners regarding this issue:
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From: Bob Langstaff, Jr. [mailto:boblangstaff@bellsouth.net]


Sent: Thu 9/17/2009 5:02 PM

To: Howard, Jon; dothubbard@aol.com; Hubbard, Dorothy; Gurr, Morris; Marietta, Roger; Postell, Tommie; Adams Jr., Willie; Lott, Alfred; Taylor, James

Subject: Heritage House grant project

Folks,

Several commissioners expressed concern about the above grant project at the least board meeting. I received some information that concerned me. Before staff spends anymore time with the project I request that some due diligence be conducted into the backgrounds and experience of the architect, the owner, and the holding company (“Greenbriar Holdings”???).

Attached are some downloads of fi.fa’s. against a Mr. Rivers and/or a Mr. Comeau in Muscogee County. I pulled these up in just a few minutes. There may be others. I just think there should be some further inquiry before too much staff time is invested. Thanks.

Bob

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