VOL. 115 | NO. 137 | Thursday, July 19, 2001
CCDC rejects Poly Esters application
CCDC rejects nightclub loan application
By SUE PEASE
The Daily News
After an apparent mix-up over the Center City Development Corp.s policy, the CCDCs board of directors Wednesday rejected a development application from 200 Linden Avenue Properties GP, a business whose tenant is Polly Esthers nightclub.
The board unanimously rejected a development loan application from D. Curtis Wegener and Kevin Kelly, who own 50 percent of the business and are the managing partners.
Board member John Elkington recused himself from the vote stating he was involved with the sale of the building.
The point of confusion stemmed from the timing of applying for a loan.
Wegener and Kelly approached the Center City Commissions staff last fall to discuss loan procedures and believed they could apply for the loan after construction began.
"The policies of the board of the Center City Development Corp. were not clearly and succinctly articulated to 200 Linden Avenue Properties by Mr. (Jeff) Sanford of the Center City Commission," Wegener said after the meeting.
"It was a misunderstanding," Kelly said.
"To take advantage of the misunderstanding at this point in time is disappointing."
Sanford, CCC president, believes the policy was clear.
"We visited in person with Mr. Wegener late last year, and encouraged him to submit an application because we liked the idea of putting a vacant building back into productive use," said Sanford about the initial meeting.
"From that time until recently, we did not hear from him and assumed he found other ways to finance his project."
The date on the development loan application was June 1. Polly Esthers opened for business May 11.
Sanford told the board the case at this time is not a question of the applicant qualifying for a development loan. The project graded favorably by staff and would be qualified for a $68,000 loan, if applied for before the start of construction.
Policy states all loan applications must be reviewed and approved by both the CCDC and Design Review Board before construction starts.
At this point the board needed to consider changing its policy if it wanted to approve the development loan application, Sanford said.
"You have the authority to make exception to policy at any time," he told board members.
Board member Ed Cicala said he thought changing the policy and approving a development loan for a project already completed "set a new dimension" to the boards purpose.
"I think it would open a new can of worms," Cicala said.
"I dont think we ought to make an exception."
There are currently no cases where an applicant was approved a development loan after the project began, CCC officials said.
The applicants were requesting a $100,000 loan for the redevelopment and renovation of the 10,547-square-foot building at the northeast corner of Linden and Third, just south of Beale Street.
The building was originally a Memphis fire station. In 1985, it was converted into a music-recording studio owned by Chips Moman. Before the nightclub project, it had been vacant for eight years.
Polly Esthers and 200 Linden Avenue Properties have invested more that $2.8 million in the project.
200 Linden also has an application pending with the National Register of Historic Landmarks for the building.
According to the application, the owners secured a loan through InSouth Bank for $1.13 million and the owner and tenant together have contributed $1.7 million to the project.
The property sits on land owned by the city. The nightclub owners entered into an assignment of lease on Dec. 5 with option to purchase. Since then, the option to purchase was closed, according to documents the owners submitted to the CCDC.