By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The approval of an extension for an agreement with Coachlight Properties for the purchase and development of the former McKinley School was held in abeyance pending answers to council questions.
The City Council voted unanimously at its July 27 meeting to hold the requested extension in abeyance until the developers answer council member questions, at the Aug. 17 council meeting, about the ongoing delays.
The original agreement for purchase and sale, approved Aug. 19, 2019, listed a May 30 closing date.
The proposed extended timeline would push the real estate purchase agreement to July, and the re-initiation of the environmental, survey and civil engineering, formation and limited partnership, and an updated market study and an updated appraisal to August.
Coachlight set the revised date for construction and permanent financing, as well as age restriction documents for the housing project to November, with a May 2021 timeframe for the submittal of the site and landscaping plan documents, and a May 2021 date for City Council and Planning Commission approval.
A building permit application would be pushed back to June 2021, with a possible issuance of a building permit a year from now. Proposed site preparation would begin in August 2021 under the new proposal, with a projected September 2022 completion date.
City Councilman Robert Alderman questioned how a three-month COVID-19 shelter-in-place delay could push the project back a year.
City Engineer Greg Mayhew said the original May 30, 2019, agreement was not approved until September 2019, then the developer encountered some stumbling blocks during the search for project funding.
“With COVID-19, he was unable to contact everyone,” Mayhew said. “He wasn’t able to get ahold of anyone to move forward with any funding.”
Alderman was leery of the length of the extension request.
“I think that’s a long time,” he said. “We have been putting it off, and we keep prolonging this. This was our first meeting when we were freshly elected, and we approved and moved this forward. Now we are still prolonging it, and we only have less than a year left in our term here.”
Alderman said he would like the initial deadline to be extended about five months, to the last meeting of the 2020 calendar year.
City Councilwoman Megan Maiani questioned where the council would be if Coachlight is not amenable to a shorter extension.
“We may fall into the pickle of they walk away from the project, and we are stuck back where we were,” she said.
Alderman said the project has been stuck for a while with previous city councils.
“I know it went to a battleground,” he said. “We made a decision to get it done, when we were elected. Let’s push forward. They’ve got to put in a little more effort.”
Alderman reiterated that COVID-19 cannot be used as justification for a year-long extension.
“There is electronic communication that still continued through the COVID virus,” he said. “I know engineers who still designed things from home. We don’t have anybody here to tell the city why it was put off that 90 days.”
Councilman Chris Calvin asked if Alderman wished for Coachlight to attend a council meeting and answer questions, to which he said yes, but added that he would not recommend extending their purchase agreement beyond December, and was opposed to a July 2021 extension.
“We want answers,” Alderman said. “I hope everyone agrees. It has been sitting there, and sitting there and sitting there. I know we can’t afford to tear it down, but it’s no different now than two years ago.”