Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Take it back! - Why I think the city should take the old police station back by eminent domain

Back in June I blogged about the former police station site. The site had just been awarded to JPS Investment Group of Florida, owned by a former city native, John Pavao. Pavao bid $160,000 to win the property in a city auction. JPS supposedly had grand plans for the building. His proposal was to renovate the building with office and restaurant space but instead little has been done to the property and JPS has been trying to sell the building for more 4 times what he paid.

Also back in June JPS purchased the Heritage Hills Golf Course in nearby Lakeville, MA. Pavao stated that he wanted to reopen the golf course and bring it back to its former glory but by this Fall he upset neighbors with plans to develop some of the land as residential house lots. Pavao claims that he needs to subdivide and sell the house lots in order to secure a mortgage on the property but it seems that neighbors view this as a failure to live up to what statements he earlier made.

I think the reality is, both here in Fall River and in Lakeville, that John Pavao is doing everything in his legal rights to profit from his investments. At the same both communities are realizing that now that honeymoon is over they may have gotten more than they bargained for.

Here in Fall River this is 100% our fault that property should have been auctioned in a manner that guaranteed that it was developed as stated, as intended, as we hoped. Because of some issues with the original bidding process we went from having it sold to a developer with great track record for getting things done and investing in the city to sitting there vacant and for sale.

It's time to take it back!

The former police station is a key site, near our Government Center, our financial district, the proposed arts overlay district, and central to the both the new courthouse on South Main Street and the courthouse located in the old Durfee High School. It's important that this site be developed in a way that complements the revitalization that we want to see in this area of the city. We had the chance to ensure that when we auctioned it off but we didn't. Now, I think we need to come up with a solid proposal for the use of that building and take it back by eminent domain.

Perhaps that building could be used to house the Fall River Children's Museum, or could be purchased to be used for or as the site of the Fall River Chamber of Commerce, allowing us to use their existing in 'daylighting' the Quequechan River. It wouldn't be too hard to find a good use for that location.

It's true that we could end up paying more for the building that what we sold it for, but sometimes you have to pay for your mistakes.

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