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Businessman surprised by skate park request

Brian Culberson, left, attempts a turn on his skateboard as J.D. Wood looks on in this Oct. 2008 file photo taken at the downtown Albany Skate Park at 135 College Drive.  A local fraternity chapter has made a request to lease the property.

Brian Culberson, left, attempts a turn on his skateboard as J.D. Wood looks on in this Oct. 2008 file photo taken at the downtown Albany Skate Park at 135 College Drive. A local fraternity chapter has made a request to lease the property.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Businessman Lane Rosen read The Albany Herald article in disbelief, stewed about it for a while and decided he couldn't let it go.

So he placed the call.

"I had to tell you how shocked I was to read that ADICA (the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority) was considering leasing the skate park building to a fraternity for $5 a year," Rosen, a real estate developer and owner/manager of the downtown State Theatre, said Tuesday. "I tried twice to work with them to do something with that property, including offering to buy it, but they would not work with me.

"And now they're thinking about leasing it for $5 a year?"

Rosen's concerns surfaced after James Linton with the local Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity asked the ADICA board at its March 20 meeting to consider leasing the building on the property that houses the local skate park (at 135 College Drive) to the fraternity so that members could organize community outreach projects.

The ADICA board said it would consider Linton's request, and City Attorney Nathan Davis said he'd draw up a lease agreement if the board approves the request.

But Downtown Manager Aaron Blair, who also serves as president of ADICA, said Wednesday he can't imagine the development authority renting the facility to anyone for $5 a year.

"I'm not in favor of renting that property except at a price that would make sense for ADICA," Blair said. "We have had inquiries in the past, and the board established a rate of, I believe, $500 a month. I'll send a copy of that agreement to the gentleman (Linton) and see if he's interested. But I can't imagine that we'd rent that property for less."

Blair went on to say that he had no formal proposal from Rosen indicating the developer would buy the property.

"He may have made an offer verbally, but there is no written offer that I'm aware of," Blair said. "I'm certain ADICA would entertain any legitimate offer, and I know I'd take any such offer to the board for consideration if I had one."

Rosen, however, said he not only made a legitimate offer of $40,000 to buy the property, he assured ADICA board members he planned to turn it into a family adventure attraction that would bring people downtown.

"I first approached ADICA about four years ago, before Aaron Blair got here, about leasing that property," Rosen said. "I spent a considerable amount of time researching and drawing up plans to turn it into 'Adventure Albany,' which was going to include the skate park, zip lines, a nature trail and canoe and rafting.

"At the 11th hour, they called me and told me to pick up the proposal that Nathan Davis had drawn up. I looked at the proposal, saw that they had doubled the monthly rent agreement (from $100 to $200), had written a number of potential penalties into the agreement and had arbitrarily changed the wording to say that ADICA would get a percentage of the gross receipts from the park. We had clearly talked about a percentage of the net receipts."

Rosen said he rejected the agreement.

"I didn't feel they were dealing in good faith with me," he said.

Davis said Wednesday Rosen's recollection of negotiations for the lease agreement were not accurate.

"There were no 11th-hour changes," the city attorney said. "Mr. Rosen was dealt with fairly and professionally. There was never any bad faith in the agreement we drew up. We kept him informed at all times, and we responded promptly to all his inquiries.

"I remember clearly that we sent him a proposal, and he never even responded to it. We assumed that he'd made a business decision to utilize his assets elsewhere."

Rosen said a couple of years later, after Blair had been hired as downtown manager, Blair contacted him to discuss his past interest in the skate park. Rosen said he offered to buy the property.

"I tried to get an appraisal on the property, and no one could come up with a number that sounded fair," the businessman said. "No one could find a tax valuation on the property. I didn't want to go through putting together another complicated rental deal, so I offered to buy the property outright. I offered $40,000. I told them it was worth 8,000 years of what they were getting in rent at the time ($5 a year).

"I made the offer at an ADICA meeting, and after things had moved forward a few minutes, Nathan (Davis) said they might need to go through a sealed bid process before selling the property. I didn't think that was very fair, since I'd already made my offer with the media present. In any case, I did not hear anything else from them or about the skate park until I read the story about someone wanting to lease it for $5."

Rosen said he decided to speak out despite fear that doing so could impact his business.

"I don't know if this is personal, but it's hard not to take it personally," he said. "I didn't want to do this story, but I just couldn't keep quiet. I put my business at risk, but I feel as a citizen of Albany I have to speak out."

Blair, meanwhile, said he'd be more than willing to reach out to Rosen again.

"If he's willing to make a written offer, I see no reason why the (ADICA) board wouldn't consider it," the downtown manager said.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 6 months ago

What was the business man's ethnicity? See, the answer is easy.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 6 months ago

Flash forward 5 years to "Doggie Park" battle for ownership versus giving it away for free just like everything else to "impoverished citizens".

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 6 months ago

Uh, the dog park is not city owned but privately owned by an upstanding citizen who did it for the love of dogs. I don't think the city will EVER own the dog park as long as this particular citizen is alive.

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dickyboy 1 year, 6 months ago

let's make a bid coming up Sunday..put it on the Big board...

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Albanite 1 year, 6 months ago

Perhaps Mr. Rosen has just learned a little something about business in the real world. Being born on third base isn't even close to the same as actually hitting a triple on your own. Learning to deal with government absurdity - and being experienced enough to handle it gracefully - is all part of being in business.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 6 months ago

Perhaps Mr. Rosen just got a lessen in Albany Politics.....His $100 per month above board offer was turned down and a $5 per year was almost slipped by the public unnoticed.

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WTFwtf 1 year, 6 months ago

Hey fisrt base, where was the lack of gracefulness?

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GeeGee 1 year, 6 months ago

Typical backroom politics. This has happened over and over in Albany. What I would be concerned about is the insurance for the potential of ASU folks getting hurt. If they can only afford $5, then how can they afford the insurance to cover potential mishaps.

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 6 months ago

$5 a year? Are you serious? These types of deals must stop. This is a publicly owned facility. Is $5 a year a good return on my tax dollars? Oh and it would no longer be open to the general public? No way!

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VietVet1 1 year, 6 months ago

Folks you'll really crack up when the final deal is made - - - and it won't be the best interest to the folks of Albany! Never has, never will. Remember, you read it here first.

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urbanpurpose 1 year, 6 months ago

You all need to calm down. Did you not noticed that it said that ADICA didn't take the $5 a year. Blair said in the article $500 a month lease. Quick to judge

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VietVet1 1 year, 6 months ago

Repeat: Folks you'll really crack up when the final deal is made - - - and it won't be the best interest to the folks of Albany! Never has, never will. Remember, you read it here first.

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Gollygee 1 year, 6 months ago

I told them it was worth 8,000 years of what they were getting in rent at the time ($5 a year).

Come on AH, where is your proofreader? Do you guys ever read what you write?

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mary.braswell 1 year, 6 months ago

So, what is 8000 x 5 in your world?

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Bulldawg 1 year, 6 months ago

Lane Rosen is a seasoned businessman that knows what he is doing. If he says that there was an 11th hour change in the contract than I would tend to believe him. It is very easy for Nathan Davis to say that there where no changes to the contract now that the city is being called on it. This is another example of cowtowing to a minority rather than abiding by sound business practices. Vietvet is right, this is just the tip of the iceberg on this issue.

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ilovealbany 1 year, 6 months ago

Lane Rosen is a hippy manchild that lives in a treehouse! Real nice guy, but seasoned businessman not!

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Bulldawg 1 year, 6 months ago

What are you talking about? "Hippy manchild," are you kidding? Is you comment fueled by professional jealously perhaps? If he lives in a treehouse, I am sure it is a nice one. Give me a break.

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truthsayer 1 year, 6 months ago

Why not just lease the whole city of Ebony to Ebony State for $5.00 a year? Ya'll seem to pander to every thing this school wants. Like them damn ugly arches going over Oglethorpe Bridge, who's idea was that? What a waste of tax payers money, for what, I don't see the purpose. I think I heard a cool $750,000 was spent on that eye sore.

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Bulldawg 1 year, 6 months ago

The arch looks like it came from a roller coaster. Albany should be called the roller coaster city!!

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Cartman 1 year, 6 months ago

Where is the 2nd arch? Is it still in storage or has it been sold as scrap?

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 6 months ago

You go, Lane!!! I too am outraged by this and was in the process of getting some people in the community to help make the park better and revitalize it. I will send you a private message and show you what my plans were. After what an ASU fraternity did to the old Holman house and let the city tear it down I am sure the building will be treated the same way so I decided to drop my idea.

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iko 1 year, 6 months ago

Why does ADICA still exist?

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FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

Good question. Another good question - Why does the City of Albany still exist? There multiple governmental fiefdoms in this community that have no productive value. ADICA and the City Government are but 2.

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Amazed2 1 year, 6 months ago

If you want to know why these projects are a waste of taxpayers money just listen to Blair? He said no he can't imagine $5 a month. Well that's great but then he says he would support $500 month. Heck they spent at least a couple hundred thousand dollars on designers, architects and contractors. They took the property off the tax roles when the acquired it an now its for rent for only $500. That's ridiculous. Just sell it back to a business and get it back on the tax digest. The City does not need to be managing properties.

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Amazed2 1 year, 6 months ago

Just remember Albany Tomorrow ATI gave us the Skate Park. The Imax, The Civil Rights Museum , The River aquarium and The Free Parking Decks and the beautiful Blue Arch. We are so thankful just look at all of the downtown revitalization these projects have brought to our Good Life City

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Bulldawg 1 year, 6 months ago

So what is your point? All of the "projects" that you mentioned cost the taxpayers rediculous amounts of money. I would not be counting my lucky stars just yet.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

Look closer, dawg. I think you will notice a tongue protruding at the cheek.

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WTFwtf 1 year, 6 months ago

Can i be a hippy manchild for halloween?

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