A response on Station 16

It took a few days to come to fruition, but the Station 16 controversy isn’t dead yet – at least not herein. This was a comment (and response) that deserves a post since it would otherwise be buried – and it comes from Joe Albero:

Michael, I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible. It should be known that my original offer of $250,000.00 was well before they created a RFP. In fact, it was because of my offer that they came up with the RFP to assure Joe Albero couldn’t purchase the property, even as a highest bidder. They did the same thing wien they dismantled the Horse Patrol and I offered to buy the horses, if you’ll recall. I offered to buy a fire truck for $5,000.00 with a blown engine, they sold it to a dealer for $2,500.00 instead. Nevertheless, when they created the RFP I stood in front of the Mayor and Council and asked, does this sale INCLUDE the other two lots going to the river. Gary Comegys immediately said, no, are you crazy. He then, (at a different council meeting) said, I wouldn’t sell Joe a damn thing, meaning the Fire Station. Considering the other lots weren’t going with the sale and Comegys stating he wouldn’t sell me the building, there was no reason for me to move forward with a RFP to purchase a piece of property the City was refusing to sell me. Each one of my offers was with no contingency and each check could be cashed immediately. We had already known that Gillis didn’t have an agreement with UMES and that is why he exposed such the night of the meeting, we were on to him and he knew it. My challenge to sue the City is real. The taxpayers are being screwed out of a very valuable piece of property/properties. As you mentioned, I do own a building outright on the Downtown Plaza. If I purchased this property, it too, (along with 18 other properties I own in Wicomico County) would be owned outright. My original proposal, (again, before there was ever a RFP) was explained to the City Council to be an exact replica of Station 7 in Pittsville with the exception of it being an All-You-Can-Eat Seafood Restaurant. Kitchen in the basement, dining on the first floor and a bar on the upper floor. I still to this day have numerous local Doctors who would dive into investing along with me to make this a reality as partners. The restaurant would employ some 70 people and the impact economic wise on the Downtown area would be incredible, while not really competing with the other restaurants Downtown. I say that in the sense that it would not challenge their menu. So please recognize my offer as good clean business. It would not sit empty and it would go under construction immediately. I’d like to say this as well. I like Palmer Gillis and like Palmer, I’m all about getting a really good real estate deal. If he gets the property, well, I hope he does exactly what he says he’s going to do but before they even get started it has been proven his original proposal has failed and the City Council should immediately drop the deal until they see him under contracts with someone willing to do what they proposed. However, that’s not how the City of Salisbury politics works. One final comment. The City should keep the property and forget my offer or Palmer’s. Louise Smith making remarks about how the building will fall apart, PLEASE! Perhaps she should take a walk down the Plaza and look at at least a half dozen properties sitting vacant for the past ten years, there’s nothing wrong with them and if there was Code & Compliance would be all over them. Some of us bought our properties for a great price and we’re sitting on them until the real estate market has a come back. Until then, who cares if the building sits empty, that’s our problem, not theirs or anyone else’s. Since when is everyone else so worried about my investment or anyone else’s anyway. Thanks for letting me share my side of this story and Merry Christmas Michael.

Yes, it was all one paragraph; I didn’t change a thing. Here’s my response.

Well, since this is your side of the story the questions I have are thus:

First, if you had the money and “numerous local Doctors who would dive into investing along with me to make this a reality as partners” why didn’t you come in as a silent partner in an LLC? If you had a good RFP proposal that Council then rejected it simply because you were involved, then perhaps you would have a leg to stand on in court. Now, I’m no lawyer (far from it) but it would seem to me that you couldn’t prove discrimination simply based on an out-of-context remark by one Council member. If your proposal was properly submitted and that good then Comegys gets outvoted 4-1.

As it stands, the original proposal you outlined and the one Coastal Venture Properties presented are essentially the same aside from the usage of the upper floor (CVP proposes apartments while you propose a bar) and the exception of CVP following through the process where you did not. Your newer proposal would involve office space, which brings me to my other question.

You claim you own almost 20 properties in Wicomico County, a couple of which I’m familiar with – besides the occasional travel by 300 W. Main, I patronize Station 7 on a semi-regular basis so that adjacent property is most familiar to me. I would hope that isn’t representative of the state of your properties as a whole, but the ones which are most ‘famous’ are unoccupied. Seems to me you could use your existing downtown building for the office space for your ‘media empire.’ (I guess you already do since some of your videos were taped there.)

If you had a more successful record in refurbishing and getting tenants for your buildings, perhaps Council would look more favorably upon your ideas.

As for the Station 16 property, it will obviously be up to the citizens and City Council to hold them accountable for what they do. Granted, we don’t have a very good track record but there was a process in disposing of the property and it was done by the book, unless you wish to attempt to prove otherwise in a legal venue.

Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.

I suppose Joe is one of those occasional drive-by visitors so it took him a few days to comment. While I’m glad he gave his side of the story, my common-sense advice is to hope Palmer Gillis and the CVP group can get right to work on restoring the building and perhaps bringing some life to an otherwise moribund downtown. Save your lawsuit money, Joe.

And perhaps I’m opening a giant can of worms by bringing this further into the light, but I thought the response deserved more attention than it probably would have had being buried under nearly a week’s worth of posts. If he’s going to get involved in the discussion I’d welcome comments on what he has to say in this forum.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

2 thoughts on “A response on Station 16”

  1. Good response, but you missed a few details.

    The city’s advertised RFP did not include the two waterfront parcels. Your argument seems to rest on Albero not having made a proposal. Given that the city did not include the waterfront parcels and then threw them in after CVP’s proposal, Albero seems to have a pretty good argument.

    Your idea that Albero should have hidden his identity as an LLC concerns me. While our GOP led county council WILL NOT approve any proposal by an LLC unless ALL partners are known, that was not the policy under the Tilghman regime in Salisbury. However, I do believe that is Mayor Ireton’s policy. Are you arguing that hiding identities is good public policy? I don’t.

  2. Indeed my argument to Joe hinges on the fact he didn’t go through the process, but he’s not stating that the RFP is flawed – his complaint seems to be instead that he was so sure he’d be discriminated against in the process that he didn’t bother to turn in an RFP with his doctor friends. I think that would be laughed out of court, but that’s just me and I’m no lawyer.

    To the extent of my knowledge, the additional two parcels may just fall under Critical Areas buffering regulations anyway so I’m not sure they’re buildable at only 150′ deep, nor do they have true water access because of the riverwalk beside them. (I’m not sure whether that is handled via an easement to the city.) That’s not to say we should be giving them away, but any legal questioning of the city’s action should hinge on the appropriateness of adding those parcels and not whether someone’s feelings were hurt because they’re not liked. I’d believe it better if someone else besides Albero led that legal argument.

    Personally, I prefer the LLC policy of the County Council where everything is in the open. Salisbury city government can learn from that.

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