MMF, A Former Frisch's and Some Terse Emails
In case you haven't heard, there's been somewhat of a battle brewing at City Hall over what to do with the former Frisch's restaurant at Fourth and Race streets downtown.
Council's economic development committee, led by Chris Bortz, passed a motion Tuesday to allow MMF Realty LLC to buy the building for $250,000. The full council agreed to the same deal Wednesday. Holly Childs, economic development director, indicated the city had another offer of $750,000.
Councilman Jeff Berding -- he said Bortz asked him to shepherd the legislation -- said it doesn't really work to claim the building could be sold for more since MMF has a 99-year lease, agreed to in 2004. That, he said, would be like saying your house is worth $500,000, but keeping it from being inhabited because someone else already leased it. In that situation, he said, the house isn't really worth much of anything.
In emails Tuesday and Wednesday, Bortz and Childs traded some harsh words. Childs said the city got an appraisal that said the building is worth $780,000. She said council's deal would only continue to subsidize a developer who has done a month's worth of demolition in the past 3 1/2 years.
Bortz said council's action avoided costly, risky and acrimonious litigation. Plus, he said, MMF has a vested interest in redeveloping the property because it already has invested in the next-door former McAlpin's store, which is now condos.
Bortz ended his last email with this: "In the future, when I extend an olive branch in a respectful disagreement, I expect that you would offer me the same kind of respect."
This could go on another week, since Mayor Mark Mallory put the issue on hold for more negotiations before next Wednesday's council meeting.