by Alan Pryor
In yesterday’s Vanguard, Davis Thompson of Neighborhood Partners LLC published an article entitled, “Deceitful Attacks on Affordable Senior Housing at the Expense of Real Needs.” In this article Mr. Thompson alleges that opponents of Measure L wrongly continue to claim that there is no guarantee that any low income housing will be built. In his opening paragraph expressing his faux outrage, Mr. Thompson disparagingly states, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its trousers on.” Well, David Thompson’s truth trousers are apparently still around his ankles.
Let me explain
I will first acknowledge that Mr. Thompson has contributed greatly to Davis’ affordable housing stock from 10 to 30 years ago. He made his millions by brokering and developing senior housing deals at over a dozen projects he proudly lists in his article. But Mr. Thompson errs in claiming that this impressive list of accomplishments somehow “guarantees” that the current proposed low income housing at WDAAC will be built if the Measure L passes at the polls.
If Neighborhood Partners LLC, Mr. Thompson’s privately-owned for-profit firm, cannot raise enough government grant monies or government subsidized loans to construct the 150 low-income apartments, they will simply not be built. This is because neither Mr. Thompson nor his firm nor the WDAAC developer, Mr. Taormino has agreed to separately guarantee that they will be built by either issuing completion bonds or personally guaranteeing that the construction will occur.
The City of Davis has also said that they will not have any money at all to contribute to any future construction needs even if only a few million dollars are needed to round out the government grants and loans otherwise sought by Mr Thompson’s firm. Given that the City will not make a contribution to construction costs and Mr. Thompson and Mr. Taormino will not guarantee availability of any construction financing, does it not just stand to reason that there are, in fact, no guarantees that these low-income housing units will ever be built?
Now Mr. Thompson proudly points to the long string of successes he has had completing projects in the past and claims he has never NOT completed a projected he attempted. Well, that’s laudable. But Neighborhood Partners’ last project developed in Davis was Eleanor Roosevelt Plaza which was built out in early 2008.
And almost all of Mr. Thompson’s previous projects he listed were only possible because of Redevelopment Agency money flooding out of Sacramento to local municipality which floodgates were wide open until the financial crisis hit us beginning in 2008. At that time Gov Brown turned off that money spigot completely and Mr. Thompson’s firm has not done a development project in Davis since. So, in the absence of future Redevelopment Agency money, it is certainly fair to ask if Mr Thompson or his firm can really raise the money to build the low-income units.
In not, neither Mr. Thompson nor his firm nor the developer David Taormino have otherwise contractually guaranteed that the affordable housing units ever will be built. We stated publicly early on that if either Mr. Taormino or Neighborhood Partners or Mr. Taormino will just sign a contract saying they or their firms guarantee completion of the low-income housing, then we will publicly withdraw our statements that there are no guarantees that the units will ever be built. However, neither Mr. Thompson or his firm or Mr. Taormino has issued such a guarantee ?
We can also look at the Development Agreement itself between the City and David Taormino, the developer of the WDAAC. Note the following clause in that agreement,
“If building permits for a minimum of sixty (60) units on the affordable housing site have not been issued within three years of recordation of the final map creating the parcel, the affordable housing site will be transferred to the City.”(Emphasis added)
Why would the City demand that the donated land revert to City ownership if the project is not built if sufficient guarantees otherwise exist that the project would be built.
Another consideration is that Neighborhood Partners is right now actively seeking financing for the exact same size of a low-income housing development in Woodland on an equally sized 4+ acre parcel. If there is a only a limited pool of construction grants issued every year, one could easily imagine that the greater “need” for low-income housing would be in Woodland vs. a more well-to-do Davis and that this might sway grant reviewers to focus on the former due to their increased low income population.
In summary, if neither of the developers or their firms will actually guarantee that any minimum number of low-income units will be built, we will continue to insist that there are no guarantees that the affordable housing component at WDAAC will ever be built.
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