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Buckingham deal, Scotty's on docket for next meeting

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The Columbus Redevelopment Commission is on the verge of resolving two longtime problems and at the same time cut the last ties to a private company that the mayor has been disassociating from the city.

Mayor Kristen Brown said a proposed payment deal of $300,000 to Buckingham Cos., the developer of the downtown Cole apartments, will be up for a vote at the commission’s meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

And, the commission is close to resolving payment and lease issues with Scotty’s Burger Joint, one of four restaurants in The Commons.

Both Buckingham and Scotty’s negotiated deals through the help of Columbus Downtown Inc., a private company created to act on behalf of the Redevelopment Commission. CDI acquired properties, negotiated deals and signed leases.

Brown was critical of CDI during her mayoral campaign for the way taxpayer money was kept from public view. She vowed to close down CDI.

Buckingham and Scotty’s are the last unresolved issues associated with CDI.

Prior members of the Redevelopment Commission and CDI promised to pay Buckingham $300,000 to help finalize the Cole project. The payment never was made, and a subsequent agreement between CDI and Buckingham permitted the company to recoup the money by withholding payments for parking spaces it would lease in the Second Street garage.

Brown and current commission members questioned the legitimacy of the obligation. Both sides met privately to resolve the matter.

Brown said she will suggest to the commission that it approve paying the $300,000 in $60,000 installments over five years. Revenue from the city-owned parking garages on Second and Jackson streets would be used for the payments, she said.

One detail still being finalized is the number of parking spaces that Buckingham will lease each year for apartment tenants and retail shops. Brown said Buckingham would like some flexibility.

The Redevelopment Commission and Mert Shipman, the owner of Scotty’s, have been trying to resolve multiple issues. Shipman has been seeking reimbursement for certain construction costs associated with the preparation of his retail space. However, the commission has been seeking his payment of unpaid utility bills and the reassignment of his lease from CDI to the commission.

In November, the commission approved paying Shipman $21,021 of the $25,521 he sought after he paid $28,762.44 in utility bills and reassigned his lease. Failure by Shipman to do so would have caused the commission to notify him that he’d broken his lease and begin the procedure for terminating his lease.

Brown said Shipman agreed to those terms. He paid his utility bills and received his money but didn’t immediately reassign his lease. However, an agenda item for the Monday meeting includes the acceptance of the lease reassignment for Scotty’s.

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