ALBANY, Ga. -- The businessman who was involved in negotiations to take over operations of a downtown skate park says that he was surprised when ADICA officials moved to double his rent to $200 and said that move was enough to shake his confidence in the deal.
Lane Rosen, a businessman who is perhaps best known for operating the State Theatre downtown, was in talks for three months with the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority about operating the authority-owned downtown business that was formerly known as Albany Riverskate, when negotiations abruptly ended last week.
In an interview, Rosen said it was ADICA's last-minute decision to double its asking price for rent, from $100 to $200 per month plus a percentage of gross receipts from the business, that prompted him to back out of the deal.
"The only real sticking point was the fact that I knew that by raising the rent after five different meetings worth of negotiations, that that was probably going to be the way they were going to do business with me going forward," Rosen said. "And I just don't do business that way."
Interim ADICA Director James Taylor said he was surprised to hear that negotiations had collapsed and said that if Rosen was willing to reconsider, ADICA would work with him to try and reach some sort of deal.
"I'd take his call tomorrow," Taylor said. "I was very surprised. In fact, I asked Nathan (Davis) for the e-mail so I could see what happened."
Taylor said that of all the proposals ADICA received, Rosen's was the only one that seemed feasible and that, given his history of operating a business downtown, he would be the most able to pull it off.
"We felt that he was the most able ... that he had the best shot at making it work," Taylor said.
Rosen said he knew going into the process that there would be substantial risk involved but that he was trying to be a team player in developing something on the east side of the river that would benefit the community.
"My plan for that property was risky, I knew that, but I was trying to be magnanimous and do something for downtown," Rosen said.
ADICA is currently mulling its options for the property. Taylor said that the skate park committee that was initially formed to solicit and review applications and proposals for the site will likely meet again to make a recommendation on where to go from here.
During their meeting this week, ADICA officials heard from Taylor and Davis on the project, which included a brief discussion on possibly finding another entity willing to operate the facility or whether to simply sell the property.