Winter Park City Council approved moving forward with the steps necessary for the potential acquisition of the Winter Park post office property at 300 N. New York Avenue (MAP).
The City Manager and City Attorney will go back to the United States Postal Service to negotiate and bring back more information.
At the PSA approval stage the Commission would have the option of stopping the process if the price is higher than it is willing to pay.
The property abuts Central Park, a large swath of grass bordered by trees used for special events and daily enjoyment. On the other side of the park is a long strip of high end shops and restaurants.
"Everybody up here wants to own that property," the Mayor said during the meeting. "it's a matter of time, a matter of costs," said Mayor Steve Leary.
The Council reviewed the Letter of Intent the USPS provided the City.
Some thought it was a good deal, others disagreed. One major point of contention was the $25,000 non-refundable deposit (Project Initiation Fee) to cover the costs of the USPS' internal planning efforts. "We spent $25,000 in 1999 to design the Winter Park Village and my goodness what a success thats become. I consider it a cost of doing business." Commissioner Cooper said. "For me this is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Mayor Leary said it's not a once in a lifetime opportunity for the City. She clarified that she was referring to the CRA's lifetime.
The Mayor questioned the council about their level of commitment to a potentially expensive land purchase that he felt was priced at four times what it was worth.
"Are we willing to pay up to $10 million... are we comfortable if that comes back as the answer?"
A council member asked where he got the $10 million figure from. The $10 million figure came from an October 14, 2019 work session. Adding the $4.6 to $8.8 million probable cost to the cost of land acquisition for the retail component of the post office which the USPS required in the Letter of Intent, the $10 million estimate is determined.
Commissioner Sprinkle felt the USPS was not actually interested in even selling to begin with based on the price and the language in the Letter of Intent.
"This is not a willing seller. This (property) is not on the market." She went on to say "They're not interested in selling this according to their own words."
She said she felt embarrassed by the the LOI. "I want green space as much as anyone up here, but I don't want the City to be held hostage by the post office."
The Mayor countered saying "They might not be willing sellers, but for an organization that loses billions of dollars annually, they'll sell."
On October 14, 2019 the Winter Park City Commission held a work session to discuss the potential acquisition of the USPS property on New York Avenue.
On October 28, 2019 the Commission adopted Resolution number 2224-19 supporting that acquisition.
City Manager Knight opened a dialogue with the USPS representatives and on December 27, 2019 the USPS representative provided a Letter of Intent for the City's consideration.
The LOI sets forth the following parameters for the proposed acquisition. There are more, but there are the major ones:
The City must provide replacement facilities at locations approved by the USPS at the City's cost for both the retail and carrier buildings. At the end, the USPS must own both facilities.
There is a Fair Market Value adjustment the city would have to pay if the appraised value of the replacement properties do not exceed the value of the current property.
Requires a $25,000 non-refundable deposit (Project Initiation Fee) upon execution of the LOI to cover the costs of its internal planning efforts.
Also upon signing the LOI the City would pay a $50,000 Cost Deposit to cover the USPS costs to comply with operational, financial, legal and regulatory requirements. If costs exceed this amount an additional deposit may be required.
Upon identifying the location of the replacement properties the City would be required to remit an additional $25,000 (Project Continuation Fee) for the additional internal planning efforts of the USPS. At this point the parties would agree to a Purchase and Sales Agreement (PSA).
City is responsible for site design costs.
City is required to pay for equipping the new facilities if the USPS determines its existing equipment cannot be used.
City would pay the cost of moving the operations to the new facilities.