Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Woodland Meadows one step closer to being razed.

A judge has declared Woodland Meadows a 'Public Nuisance,' and given the owners two months to bring the complex within code standards. That basically means securing the buildings and picking up trash, something the current caretakers view as a Sisyphean task.

Jorge Newbery, the owner of the complex, was a blogger for three days. He used his blog to lay out his side of the story. To paraphrase/summarize Newbery: I did my best, which was better than past owners, and would have been successful if not for repeated misfortune and the withdrawal of counted-on support. I'm willing to work with the city to salvage the situation as much as possible.

The person who wrote that letter was intelligent, perceptive, and told a plausible story. Perhaps he is not really the callous slumlord he's portrayed as being.

Y'know what? I don't really care.

Everyone, from me to the mayor, from neighbors to Newbery's own attorney, seems to agree: those 122 buildings are beyond salvaging. So I don't see the point in bringing them up to code. Knock them down. Worry about what to do with the vacant land later.

This is my best (uneducated) guess as to the overall situation: Mr. Newbery is facing financial devastation, and is holding on to every bit of negotiating power he has to wring something out of the property before he has to give it up and face his creditors. The city doesn't want to bail out someone else's failed investment to the tune of several million dollars. The city wants to take over the decision making process, without laying out $10M+, so they're making the case that Newbery can't or won't take on the responsibility. All the while, everyone waiting for Newbery to pay back loans or reimburse for services wants to be assured that they aren't going to end up eating the entire loss.

Meanwhile a 52 acre chunk of the Eastside festers.

I'm willing to listen to reasonable opinions on this, but the one I'm offering up is this: Taking on Woodland Meadows was a high-risk investment. Sometimes, high-risk investments don't work out. Actually, in the vast majority of cases, high-risk investments don't work out. That's why they're called high-risk.

Woodland Meadows didn't work out.

So, Mr. Newbery is going to have to deal with the loss. His creditors, likewise. Maybe it's a shame that this happened to a modern-day saint, or maybe it was only a matter of time before a smooth-talking slumlord's schemes caught up with him. Perhaps the Mayor and the media have been more than fair in propping things up for three years. Perhaps they are engaging in a petty personal attack.

I couldn't tell you, and let me repeat, I don't care.

Perhaps Mr. Newbery will emerge miracuously unscathed from the situation, perhaps he will be broken. It's not for me to have a preference there.

It is, as the judge declared, a Public Nuisance. Knock it down. Clean it up. Negotiate later.

1 comment:

bobrobboy said...

Great perspective. I agree 100%. I lived on N. Broadleigh for a couple years which coincided with Newbery's purchase of the Meadows. I went to a couple neighborhood meetings where he talked about his plan and efforts. I have to say that he seems genuine and really interested in making a go at this (read: making money because he appeared to me to be a high-risk businessman). Some risks work out for you, and many don't.