Okay, now we have Penny Ballem locked in a room with Fortress trying to come to a deal on the financing.
Next, the mayor and Penny have to figure out who is going to take Jody’s place.
As I wrote for the Globe, the deputy city manager’s role in dealing with development projects is critical.
For the village, Jody Andrews acted as the liaison between all city departments and the project, to make sure that the development met all the city’s guidelines and that there were no city technical glitches hanging it up.
People in the development industry say they need to have one person to rely on when a project is ongoing and will sometimes call that person, typically the deputy city manager, a dozen times a day to help sort out problems.
“I would think they would have to replace him as quickly as possible,” said David Negrin, president of the Urban Development Institute that represents most of the province’s large developers. “That position is key.”
He said the city has asked the UDI to create an advisory committee to help steer the project through to completion. However, that committee could not do the job of a single project manager.
There had been speculation in the past that the city might bring in someone from the development industry to oversee the project. As well, with the current slump in the housing market, there are many underemployed development specialists who would be available. However, Mr. Negrin said he had no idea what the city might be doing to replace Mr. Andrews.
Since I wrote that, I’ve heard any number of rumours about who that person might be. Suggestions have included: Dan Doyle, the former deputy minister who is now with VANOC; one of the two quantity surveyors currently working on the project; someone from the development industry. (One more piece of arcane construction-industry knowledge for you — a quantity surveyor is a person who comes in and looks at how much work has been done and tells the lender whether it seems to match the amount of money being requested in the monthly construction draw. The village has two, one working for the city, one working for Fortress.)
As well, I’ve also heard that the UDI advisory committee will look at whether there is any way to cut costs on the project, although that will be hard to do, given how far along everything is. The sub-zero refrigerators are already sitting in warehouses and the fancy glass exteriors are sitting on the ground, waiting to be installed.
But costs have been a puzzle to everyone watching this project. I’ve heard everything up to $1,000 a square foot. A reliable source (oh-oh, there I go again) says it is $500 a square foot when other projects in the city are half that, for construction costs. Those quoting the $1,000 a square foot number may be including all costs. How developers typically break down the costs is
1. hard (construction costs). That’s $500 a square foot for the village.
2. soft (everything else — consultants, interest, etc). That’s usually $100-150 on a regular project, may be up to $300 here, especially with the cost of marketing.
3. land. It works out to $200 a square foot at the price they paid.