During a council meeting last February, city councilmembers acting as the Redevelopment Agency requested that Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) return in March to discuss a plan that the corporation take over the $228 million in debt owed on a previous expansion of the convention center.
At a March 29 city council meeting, CCDC vice president Frank Alessi said the $9.2 million annual payments, increasing to $13.7 million in 2013, would clean out CCDC's coffers.
"We reviewed the financial capability of the agency and determined that if the agency were to pay the full debt service on the convention center...there will be no money available for projects after fiscal year 2013."
According to Alessi, assuming the $9.2 million annual payments would leave the downtown development corporation with only $3.8 million to spend on projects, city services, and CCDC administration.
So, Alessi suggested a compromise, that CCDC be put on a "stepped-up" payment plan, paying $2 million in 2012 and increasing each following year by $500,000 until the debt is paid off in 2043. Even on this payment plan, Alessi said CCDC would be forced to cut $3.25 million in public-art projects for five years and spend $7 million less on land acquisitions through 2014.
City council liked Alessi's plan.
"Cutting off redevelopment and shutting down these projects would be extremely shortsighted," said councilmember Kevin Faulconer. "To turn that off would be the wrong place to go."
"We could shift priorities around at CCDC and we could make the full payment, [but] I'm going to accept compromise. This compromise will help the city, and it's not going to bankrupt CCDC," said councilmember David Alvarez.
Faulconer presented a motion supporting the "stepped-up" payment alternative. That motion passed seven-to-one, with Sherri Lightner opposed.