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Wells Fargo to release lien on land under new parking deck

Bank maintains security interest

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 10:46 PM
Last updated Thursday, June 21, 2012 2:12 AM
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The final pieces are in place to free up land under Augusta’s new parking deck from a bank lien and transfer the property to the city land bank, says an attorney representing the city in the transactions.

Jim Plunkett, the outside counsel for the new Augusta Convention Center and parking deck project, said Wednesday that documents specifying Wells Fargo is prepared to release the lien on the deck land, freeing transfer of clear title to the land bank, are ready for Augusta Commission approval at an upcoming meeting.

Last year during discussions about who will run the garage, commissioners were surprised to learn that the city didn’t own the land on which the deck was built and faulted City Administrator Fred Russell for failing to inform them of the change.

Surprise turned to shock when commissioners learned that not only did the city not own the land but also that the land was partial collateral for its owner’s multimillion-dollar bank loan. In December, the commission authorized hiring a forensic auditor to scrutinize those and other details.

In February, the commission approved hiring Augusta Riverfront LLC to manage the deck, so long as land beneath it was free of liens and was transferred to the city-controlled Augusta Land Bank Authority.

Both Augusta Riverfront and landowner 933 Broad LLC have ties to management of Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

Under the agreements up for commission approval, Wells Fargo retains no security interest in the parking deck or land beneath, and it cannot foreclose on the parking deck property in the unlikely event the borrower defaulted, Plunkett said.

Wells Fargo did request that it retain one security interest in the deck, however.

“Wells asked for assignment of parking management rights,” Plunkett said. IIf the borrower defaults, the bank can step in and run the parking deck, subject to the city’s approval, he said.

Who will operate the deck has been a source of tension among commissioners. Its management was put out for bids before Augusta Riverfront’s assertion that Marriott – whose brand is on the downtown conference center and will soon be on the Augusta Convention Center, also known as the TEE center – needs to operate the deck. The current management agreement has the city paying $25,000 a year to Augusta Riverfront to run the deck.

With the parking deck land no longer subject to the debt, it can be safely transferred to Augusta Land Bank, Plunkett said. 933 Broad, which retains use of ground-floor spaces during business hours, agreed to the transfer earlier this year to dispel commissioner concerns.

Several commissioners said they had not seen the new documents, and Russell could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The land bank authority canceled all its June and July meetings, but Director Norman Michael said it would call one if need be to accept a transfer of property.

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OJP 06/20/12 - 11:06 pm

The Great Parking Deck Crisis has perhaps been resolved.

Riverman1 06/21/12 - 02:25 pm
This article reads like fiction

This article reads like fiction, "surprised turned to shock." Of course the whole matter is stranger than fiction. With the investigation-audit currently going on about the $100 million TEE, I'd certainly discuss the matter with Wells Fargo and understand in detail why they agreed to waive most of the lien except the parking concession. There is no telling what kind of conditions exist with the big company in so much trouble with their debt. There must be value in the parking concession if the bank wants to keep it as security. I think many of us said that previously.

The repo man from Lizard Lick Towing is liable to show up any night and pull the TEE away.

seenitB4 06/21/12 - 05:34 am
Heh heh

Did you really THINK that yall could out think the "thinkers"...:)
They have the marbles---they have the $$$---always a step ahead.....heck They own Lizard Lick Towing.....

David Parker
David Parker 06/21/12 - 08:33 am
The boondoggle thickens!

The boondoggle thickens!

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 06/21/12 - 09:38 am
Please, Susan,

post a copy of the document attesting the city's ownership interest in the land in question when the document is issued.

Conservative Man
Conservative Man 06/21/12 - 10:17 am
SOAPY, trust me many public

SOAPY, trust me many public servants are being scrutinized individually in all of this. That I know for a fact.

Iwannakno 06/21/12 - 10:35 am
This isn't the city's TEE Center

This belongs to the Mariott. They are calling the shots and even demanding improvements. What a joke the commission has become. At least I know where the kickback form the garbage tax went.

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