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YOUNGSTOWN Arena bids vary in detail



Published: Wed, September 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Each developer will give presentations during which they are to offer city leaders more specifics.

By ROGER G. SMITH

CITY HALL REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mayor George M. McKelvey wasn't kidding when he stressed how much more work the city must do before picking a developer for the civic center project.

Three of the four proposals the city unveiled Tuesday lack most details about what the developer has in mind for Youngstown.

That's not unexpected, however, McKelvey said. The city will seek more specifics from developers as the evaluation process moves on, he said.

The city's request for proposals was broad and allowed companies to respond with as little as just their qualifications, McKelvey said.

That's largely what happened.

"We understood that going in," McKelvey said. "Each step of the process more detail will be required."

McKelvey is pleased with the quality of the developers and the companies they plan to collaborate with.

"They definitely speak loudly to the qualifications," he said.

Most detailed

The Landmark Organization of Austin, Texas, submitted a proposal with far more specifics than the others. Besides company and partner background, the proposal outlined an arena, conference center and hotel.

There are details about the buildings, pages of financial figures, a time line and drawings of what the site between the Market Street and South Avenue bridges ultimately would look like.

Landmark even produced a letter from the Central Hockey League promising a team for Youngstown's civic center.

The other developers, however, mostly touted their past and present development projects and the backgrounds of the architects, builders and managers that they would collaborate with. Much of the information can be found on the Web sites of the developer or its partners.

All three other developers have substantial experience but mostly elected against outlining a specific vision.

"Some did more homework than others," said city Finance Director David Bozanich.

What's next

The city will review all the proposals with its consultant, Compass Facility Management. Each developer will give presentations, where they are to offer city leaders more specifics.

Finalists will be ranked, and negotiations will start with the top pick. The city expects to have that process done by Jan. 1. Main criteria include financial capability, experience in successful projects, compliance with federal regulations and total amount of private investment.

A memo of understanding will be signed while the chosen developer conducts a feasibility analysis, makes architectural plans and puts financing in place. A binding development contract will be negotiated afterward.

The city wants to finish a contract and see construction start in spring 2003, although it could take longer. Construction is expected to take about two years.

The city has four years from now to finish under its $26.8 million federal grant for the project, McKelvey said.

Landmark's proposal

Landmark outlines a $78.4 million project in a nearly 2-inch-thick proposal.

That includes: a 6,500-seat arena for sports and concerts costing $26.4 million; a 30,000-square-foot exhibit and conference center costing $9.6 million; and a 250-room Hilton or Doubletree hotel costing $38.9 million. An additional $3.5 million would be spent on improving the site.

A parking lot with 2,500 spaces would sit next door to the whole complex.

There is a listing of possible annual events, attendance and financial figures, a 20-year projection of income and expenses for the arena and a 3 1/2-year project time line.

The other proposal details pale in comparison:

* Garfield Traub Development of Dallas submitted a long list of qualifications, high-profile projects and the partners to match -- but no details. The city originally listed the developer as Gould Evans Associates, Tampa, Fla. Gould Evans, however, is among Garfield Traub's partners.

Other partners

Some of the other large partners would include Turner Construction Co. and building managers Global Spectrum or SMG. Global Spectrum and SMG each manage dozens of buildings around the country. Trade publications list Turner as the largest builder of sports and entertainment facilities in the nation with $746 million in projects last year.

Other Garfield Traub partners would include Youngstown architect Riciutti Balog and Partners and Alan Levin, who owns and operates the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Levin remains committed to locating an Arena2 football team in a Youngstown civic center, the proposal says.

* Waterford Group of Waterford, Conn., also offered much background but did offer cost estimates. The numbers are generic, however: $170,000 per hotel room built, $450 per gross square foot for a convention center and $2,400 per seat for an arena. The company also gave two other pages generally outlining construction timetables and management of the project.

The company said it was hard to determine numbers when the city didn't provide a master plan for the project.

Fees

Waterford, however, detailed the development fees it would charge if it managed the entire project. Among them are a $1.4 million "development fee," 1 percent of the project cost as an "incentive fee," 5 percent of all equipment purchases for the hotel and conference center for a "technical services fee," annual management fees of $450,000 to $500,000 and $4,000 per month for accounting management fees.

* MG Financial Services of Carmel, Ind., gave a general outline of a financing deal for a 6,500-seat arena only.

The company said it sent a base proposal in response to the city's request because "the information requested [by the city] would require an investment of both time and money well beyond that normally expected for a project of this type and size."

The proposal does say that the city's only capital investment would be $4 million plus the land.

rgsmith@vindy.com




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