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Date of Issue: May 05, 2005

City to Tidemark: 'Make us an offer we can't refuse'
islander Pic
Don't fence me in
Work crews last week fenced in the area for the planned Tidemark hotel/marina/condominium at Gulf and Marina drives in Holmes Beach in preparation for property improvements prior to the start of construction, although no start date for construction has yet been set and no building permits issued. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Representatives of the planned Tidemark hotel/condominium/marina project in Holmes Beach learned from the city commission April 26 that it's ready to make a deal on a new lease for that section of the boat basin at the project that the city owns. But it wants Tidemark to make the first pass.

"Make us a proposal," said Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger to attorney Bob Green, representing Tidemark.

The city voided its $100-per-year lease to Tidemark for its 5-foot-wide space into the basin along Marina Drive last month after learning it could do so because Tidemark was in bankruptcy. At that meeting, Commissioner Roger Lutz had indicated that $100 a year was too little for the city treasury, and he also wanted proof that Tidemark owned the basin bottom.

Green said he had proof of ownership, but no proposal to make to the city at this time.

He claimed that the company that now owns Tidemark, Reliance-Tidemark LLC, has a policy from Chicago Title Co. indicating it owns the basin bottom.

"The basin was artificially created and is privately owned," he said. The city only owns a portion along Marina Drive extending outward about five feet. The city area includes the two feet of seawall, he added.

He also brought commissioners up to date on Tidemark, noting that the new ownership group is Reliance-Tidemark LLC, with Reliance Realty Partners of Connecticut as the holding company.

 He claimed the company has construction financing in place, but later in his discussion said that financing should close in about 30 days.

He also refuted any suggestion that Tidemark wants the city to implement traffic calming measures or landscaping along Marina Drive.

"If the city wants to improve that area, we'd like to participate, but if not, it's no problem," Green said. "We've not requested that the city give us anything" for landscaping.

Well, the city is not going to accept nothing in the new lease, countered Commissioner Don Maloney. "The original commission that accepted $100 a year is no longer here," he observed.

Maloney said that the city could lease the space to another party, noting it has received a letter from another attorney asking about leasing the boat basin.

Maybe you can lease your space to someone else, responded Green, but Reliance-Tidemark still owns the bottom.

"Then, it's a Mexican stand-off," joked Maloney.

Not quite, said Lutz, who suggested Green return to the commission with proof of ownership of the basin and a proposal for a new lease as soon as possible to get negotiations started. He cautioned, however, that the starting price shouldn't be another $100-a-year lease.

"Make us an offer we can't refuse," Lutz said.