City council

Columbia puts conditions on extension of contract to sell Capital City Stadium

cleblanc@thestate.comMay 8, 2014 

— The developer who wants to buy Capital City Stadium to make way for a mixed-use complex had to up the ante on his earnest money by $200,000 to get City Council’s tentative agreement to a fifth extension on the deal.

Bright-Meyers of Atlanta also agreed to five benchmarks, each of which the company must hit or forfeit to the city $129,000 of the earnest money.

Council decided on a May 30, 2015 extension on a nearly 2-year-old purchase agreement.

Before Tuesday, Bright-Meyers risked losing only the initial $29,000 in earnest money, said Krista Hampton, Columbia’s director of Planning and Development Services.

The city has agreed to sell the six-acre stadium site for $1 million to the developer as part of a 22-acre complex.

The latest extension reflects frustration by some council members who wondered what was taking Bright-Meyers’ executive Matt Sasser so long to show progress.

Council’s reluctance after four extensions resulted in new benchmarks that carry 30-day, 45-day, 90-day and nine-month deadlines. Council unanimously set those standards on its initial vote. The extension requires a second vote, which is likely at the May 20 meeting.

Within 30 days after the extension is signed by Bright-Meyers and city manager Teresa Wilson, the developer must deliver to the city preliminary environmental reports, property surveys, core sampling results and its outline for altering the terrain to suit the complex that is to be anchored by a 113,500-square-foot Kroger grocery store.

Within 45 days, the developer must produce its computerized model showing how it would control flooding on the property and downstream. The property is in a federally designated floodplain.

Within 90 days, Bright-Meyers must apply to the U.S. Corps of Engineers for a wetlands permit and a complete flood study as well as have completed designs for managing floodwaters at a downstream railroad embankment and a bridge at Olympia Park.

Within nine months, the company must produce its completed engineering plans required for permits.

Finally, the latest extension requires that Bright-Meyers “must deliver to the seller (Columbia) a document certifying that these contingencies (benchmarks) have been satisfied by May 15, 2015 or this contract is terminated ... and the parties shall have no further obligations to each other.”

Sasser sent council members and key city staffers an email Tuesday afternoon in which he said Bright-Meyers has not been dragging its feet.

“Some of you may feel that we have spent the last nine months idle and not moving this project forward,” Sasser wrote. “I wanted to clarify that and inform you of what all has been done ... .”

He listed a series of steps his company and Kroger have completed or started. The list includes preliminary environmental studies, completed core samples of the entire site, topographical and boundary surveys, delineation of wetlands and streams and solicitation of bids for constructing the grocery store.

Core sampling showed that most of the buildings in the complex will need to be supported with in-ground pilings.

Council granted the extension after a closed-door meeting Tuesday with Sasser and Ryan Nevius, director of the environmental organization Sustainable Midlands. Nevius, an opponent of the Bright-Meyers’ initial plans for an urban Walmart store on the site, said the developer now is cooperating with neighborhood and environmental leaders on plans for the property.

Bright-Meyers and a representative of Kroger have held a series of meetings with leaders in the adjacent Olympia and Granby neighborhoods as well as environmentalists.

Asked if one year will be enough time for him to close the deal, Sasser said, “Under normal circumstances, that should give us the time we need to get the (federal) permits and close.”

Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.

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