by David Schankula
MYTH #1: “The developers and investors are still committed to the project.”
That’s what Jim Newberry said. But he has not backed it up — it is an empty statement.
First of all, examine what the developers have been saying to the city for the past year. At the outset, Webb said the building would be up by the 2010 games. After the block was demolished, the Webbs said construction would begin soon. In January, they said it was simply a matter of permitting. In February, when asked directly if the finances were there, they said simply, directly: “The finances are there.” As March broke, the Webbs produced a letter from their construction firm saying the only thing holding them back was state permitting. And now the financer’s dead.
And oh yeah, s/he’s been dead since the fall of 2008.
Second of all… I’m not using the gender-unbiased pronoun because I went to liberal arts school. We really just have no idea who the dead person is. Some rumors place the dead financier in Dubai, others put him/her in Europe.
Still others suggest that there never was a financier, and the Webb Company was playing out some Kentucky Central redux. That history’s longer than we have time for here, but suffice to say, the Webbs were accused of siphoning a combined $100,000,000.00 [PDF] that didn’t exist from (and thus collapsing) the good ol’ boy insurance company to fund a series of flop-house corporate structures, paying themselves but bankrupting their developments.
And finally, there is no more proof today — now that the death has been announced — that the developer is committed to paying $250 Million for a hotel no one needs than there was last August when the Webbs went before a judge and argued that everything needed for construction was in place and demolition should proceed [read the comments here for Hayward Wilkirson's thoughts on this subject].