Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Orange Dolphin Still in Murky Waters

The Pelican Press has an article giving a little more information about the city deal to purchase the 1530 Dolphin property. Bob Ardren says "For better or for worse, Sarasota City Manager Mike McNees threw a big pitch to city commissioners Monday – asking them to offer a truly speculative price for a downtown parcel for parking.....McNees told the commission the owner was in town last weekend and told him she wanted $4.4 million and had other bidders in line if the city doesn’t offer that price.....We’re in competition with three or four pretty deep-pocketed developers," [McNees said] "Not next week, not next month, we buy it today or never."

According to public records, Eva Maria Bartenschlager (Habermanstrasse 8, Gruenwald, Germany) purchased the 1530 Dolphin site from Serbin 12/2003 for $1,700,000. Fair market value (property assessor) is $1,140,100. It is currently zoned CCBD and is will become Downtown Edge under the new Downtown Code.

The property is 21,263 square feet (0.488 acre) and the building is 10,874 square feet.

It is listed as belonging to Bartenschlager Holdings LLLP, 1510 W Hyde Park Street, a corporation created 11/21/2003. Partner is listed as Bartenschlager Management Company, 200 S Orange.

Bartenschlager Management Company was formed 11/20/2003 and officer/directors are:
Gerald Brix, Brixaugustin 320 Park Avenue 31st, New York, NY
John E. Wagner, II, 200 S Orange, Sarasota

Bartenschlager also owns Aleisa Holdings, 11891 US Highway 1, N Palm Beach, FL, created 5/7/1993, with her address given as 1510 Hyde Park.

1510 Hyde Park is almost an acre (42,825 square feet), purchased 4/12/1993 for $1,680,000 and fair market value of $3,848,500, with a building of 6,704 square feet and 2 living units, zoned RSF2.

Gerald Brix appears to be part of no other Florida corporations.

E. John Wagner, II is president of The Tax Deferred Exchange Company, which is primarily managed by attorneys of Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, located at 200 S Orange.

A couple key questions still loom. What is the value of the property and how does it fit into the city’s parking plan?

The value of property could be determined by the price that a willing buyer and a willing seller settle on. For us this translates into how does the City establish a price they are willing to pay?

A possible answer to this is a current appraisal by a qualified appraiser. Because of rapidly rising real estate values in Sarasota, at a recent CRA meeting the value of the Plaza Verde property was questioned. The city staff presented the CRA Board with a report- along with a mathematical analysis-that would establish the rationale for not revisiting the appraisal issue. This process was accepted by the CRA Board.

A fair question for the Commissioners (CRA Board) to answer is which method was used to determine the price they would be willing to pay for the 1530 Dolphin property? Or, did the Commissioners simply fold in this "high stakes poker game" and agree with the now or never scenario?

We would certainly hope that with the staff available to answer questions and do analyses, a rational process was used to determine the value (from the city perspective) for this property. We also hope the Commissioners will be forthcoming in explaining to the taxpayers the rationale they used.

If the city now has a new policy for purchasing and selling property, the taxpayers would also like to be told what this is.

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