On March 21st of this year, the Mayor’s office held a press conference, with much TV camera-loving fanfare and hoopla, to announce that he and Toney Sleiman had finally reached agreement, whereby Sleiman would be able to purchase the east parking lot from the city. This announcement came two months after Peyton had told Sleiman the deal was dead (Peyton had grandeur ideas of playgrounds and merry-go-rounds downtown instead). Apparently this change of heart from Peyton came about because of the rumored threat of multiple lawsuits (forget doing the right thing). In any case, it was good news because it meant not only could Sleiman build a new building on the east lot, but Cameron Kuhn could go ahead with building River Watch City Centre next to the Humana building.
So, that brings us to today. Four months have passed and still Peyton has not signed off on the deal. In response to a recent status request from Times-Union journalist Joe Light, JEDC Director Ron Barton said, “Not finalized and at this point we will also not have a special meeting of JEDC. Stay tuned.”
Stay tuned? Stay tuned for what? For how long? And that is kind of scary coming from this administration. Does that mean another bombshell “I changed my mind” is coming again?
It’s been FOUR MONTHS! I don’t care if you have top secret, clandestine, special handshake meetings – just get the deal done. Yeah, these deals take some time and patience is a virtue, but so are efficiency and competence.
Perhaps part of this lag is due to another theory we hear thrown about quite a bit. Most people know that the Peyton family owns a ton of land on the southside. Does the Peyton Empire feel threatened and feel they need to throw a roadblock up at every turn in the pathway to downtown development?
In any case, someone needs to step on the gas here. Whether that is Barton getting his people in motion or Barton convincing Peyton that he really should keep his word on the deal, it just needs to happen.
It is no secret that delaying the Landing deal is holding up not only the development of the east lot but also Kuhn’s River Watch City Centre. But, for whatever odd reason, maybe that is the intent?