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After being copied with and reading several emails between the Meadows community, lamenting how it had gone for them at the evening before’s Historic Architectural Review Board (HARC) meeting re the new Peary Court development, as reported in yesterday’s Key West symphonies have their own special flair: St. Patty endorses Sloan for Mayor … Spring Break Drug Court … Peary Court red flag warnings … star-studded cello and piano duel … I need to get tough on local judges, the State Attorney and the Public Defender about how they mistreat homeless people … post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com, I sent this email to them:
Neither your side nor the developer/architect/Hendrick side got what it wanted yesterday. I do not feel you should concede anything re Angela Street. You should aim toward the City Commission having to make that call, and all calls re Peary Court. You need an able lawyer and an able architect, who are not one of you, representing you at future city government meetings. You are no match for Jim Hendrick, who you saw yesterday is the developer’s field general. The HARC Chair may be a match for the developer’s architect, but he and the other HARC members are lined up with the theory of completing what was allegedly envisioned many years ago for the extension of Southard, Eaton and Fleming Streets. As is City Planner Don Craig. You need to accept Peary Court redevelopment is a larger issue than the Meadows; it is a city-wide issue, in which the Meadows happens to be located. However, the Meadows should not be likened to Truman Annex, as happened yesterday. It is the other way around. The Meadows has been there a long time, and the Peary Court developer is an interloper, who only is thinking about money. Stop trying to make deals with the developer vis a vie Hendrick and the architect. Deal directly with HARC, then Craig/Planning, on up the line to the City Commission, led by an able lawyer and an able architect.
One of them replied:
Hiring an attorney and architect is a good idea. I have been involved in a similar dispute here in Ft. Lauderdale’s Downtown area with a project called Marine Lofts. It is a 1000 unit proposed rental complex on the New River next to a small condo, the Esplanade, where I own a unit. A group of us opposed the scope and scale of the project (3 thiry story buildings) but were no match for the developer and his deep pockets (its a half billion dollar project). After a marathon City Commission meeting lasting until 4 am we lost on a 5 to 0 vote. Having an attorney may have help – who knows. One problem with counting on the City Commission to stop the project is they are the court of last resort. If you lose there there is no recourse but going to court. And that gets very expensive with no sure outcome. My suggestion is to try to work with the City and developer at this point and see if something can be worked out. I like the idea of a “quirky” buffer row of cottages facing a new Angela Lane with 2 parking spaces per house, one on site and one on the street – giving almost as much on street parking as there is now along the fence, making Angela one-way (whatever way works best for the residents), restricting access into Peary Court at one cross street – probably Florida, and hoping for the best. As secondary issues, I would ask that the affordable house units be scattered inside the complex as triplexes and the corner where the barracks are proposed be a ballfield and pool complex for the community. In addition the “swamp” area could be filled increasing the buildable area and thus allowing the ballfield pool complex to be bigger – maybe add some tennis courts.
Another of them replied:
Sloan, Good points. Thank you. We will have to organize and I am working on it. We might be able to meet this Sunday afternoon at the Moose Club.
I wrote to the second responder, with copies to ALL:
An organizational meeting is good, if it’s only you folks and maybe a lawyer and architect you have brought on board. I suppose some of you are wondering what planet I came from, or what insane asylum, but the fact is, you heard Jim Hendrick refer to me in yesterday’s meeting as his “good friend, Sloan Bashinsky”. And then he did something he may end up regretting later on, but maybe not in the Peary Court context. He said his developer would put solar panels on all the units in the new Peary Court, which is what I had told the HARC commissioners I felt should be done to bring Key West into the 21st Century. Commissioner Theo Glorie, whom I know pretty well, agreed during his comments.
I know Jim very well. I mostly keep my distance from him for reasons I will not go into here, but I have published those reasons a number of times in the past. I like Jim, I care about him, but I simply cannot run with him because I end up on the other side of him too often to suit me as it is. Michael Halpern keeps coming to me as a lawyer who is a match for Jim, perhaps more than a match. I don’t think there is any love lost between them. However, I think Michael still splits his time between Key West and Colorado, and I don’t know if he is available to you. I don’t know Michael personally, only by reputation. He is very smart and he does not feel beholden to play by the lawyer brotherhood rules.
You saw Jim slip up yesterday, when Don Craig said he didn’t want Palm Avenue closed off. Jim had what for him amounted to a knee-jerk reaction. For all I know, it was Jim who persuaded his good friend the architect that the city was against closing Palm Avenue. I was astounded that the architect did not know the Palm Avenue entrance did not serve over half the residences in Perry Court today. Rest assured, the HARC Chair knew, and I can’t imagine he wasn’t wondering where the developer’s architect was coming from, or what he thought he was up to?
Jim’s duty is to his client, the developer. Jim will do all he can to get the developer the best possible deal for the developer. If that agrees with your position, no problem. But you must assume Jim makes no concessions to you, which he does not feel are in his client’s best advantage. And, you can assume Jim will not tell you everything he is thinking, or everything he knows. He will, take this to the bank, try to bring you over to his viewpoint, and he will, take this to the bank, too, try to steer you away from where he does not want you to go.
Monroe County Mayor Emeritus Shirley Freeman, I hope you are tracking this email thread. You have your own perspective of Jim Hendrick, which I imagine isn’t that far different from what I am saying here. Perhaps these citizens could benefit hearing from you, again. Some of them saw and heard you challenge Jim last Sunday at the Moose Lodge re how many bedrooms were in the new Peary Court. They saw and heard him bite back at you, finally, because you were persistent in trying to get an answer other than he and Donna Bosold, did not know how many bedrooms. They had a pretty good idea; the architect is Jims’s good friend, Jim said at that meeting; Jim hired the architect for the developer, he said at that meeting. Do any of you think Jim saw those plans for the first time yesterday at the HARC meeting? Not a chance that was when Jim first saw those plans. He was in on the design from the beginning, advising and talking back and forth with the architect.
Do any of you know what got Jim convicted of witness tampering in Federal Court? He supposedly had facilitated the bribe of a Monroe County Commissioner by the name of Jack London. By the time it was discovered the statute of limitations had run for that alleged crime. So Jim was prosecuted for conspiracy and witness tampering. London died before the case went to trial. A party to the alleged bribe made a deal with the US Attorney to wear a wire and have meetings and conversations with Jim, in one of which Jim said what he was doing, advising a person of interest to leave the country, could be viewed as witness tampering.
As I recall, not for sure of that timing, though, Jim was the County Attorney when he allegedly arranged the bribe of Jack London. Later, Jim left that job because he had a private practice and he was working both sides of the fence, as I heard it told by others. Even later, Jim was prosecuted. And convicted. And disbarred. And put in jail for a while, then he was put on probation. The US Attorney appealed the probation sentence, and a different Federal Judge handled that, and imposed a stricter probation.
Personally, I can’t say I think Jim changed his spots. Personally, I think his only real remorse was he got caught.
Jim represented Pritam Singh throughout in the development of Truman Annex. I think I recall hearing that Jimmy Weekley introduced Jim and Pritam, just as Pritam was getting interested in acquiring Navy land. I think Sunset Key was involved in that, too – Pritam made out like a bandit, so to speak. Jim and Pritam have been fast buddies ever since. Jim told me he took a unit in each of Pritam’s developments, as his fee. Jim said at the Moose Lodge that he and Donna Bosold will live in the new Peary Court.
The way it works for me is, I seem to be gotten involved in anything which needs a different perspective. I do it for free, always. There is nothing in it for me. I do it ongoing, regardless of whether I am running for public office. I do it regardless of the votes it costs me, or gains me. I do it because I am given it to do. I don’t know ding squat about development and architectural review, compared to Jim. But I know Jim. I was not involved in Peary Court, nor did I know Jim was involved until I bumped into Shirley outside the Moose Lodge Sunday before last, and she told me what she was there for and I went in and there was Jim, and I knew why I was there, and that the angels who run me had arranged it through Shirley.
The second responder wrote:
Good Evening Sloan,
Thank you for passing on your views.
I replied to him, copies to ALL, this morning:
At Shirley Freeman’s home last night for the “Passion Unleashed” splendid black (attire) reception, the recital for which is tonight in the Tennessee Williams Cabaret, I told Shirley that you folks would do well to view Jim Hendrick as a great white shark. Shirley smiled wanly.
Angela Street and the Palm Street entrance are where you folks need to draw a line in the sand. You seem to have Don Craig on your side with Palm Avenue entrance remaining open, which Jim Hendrick has demonstrated the developer clearly does not want to happen. You seem to have Don against you with Angela Street remaining as it is. However, as you know, the final calls will be made by the City Commission. HARC and Don come at things differently from the City Commission.
Many times have I seen the city commissioners and mayor go against what was decided below them. Sometimes it was because they felt what happened below was not the best course, sometimes they were feeling political heat. It is not my impression that HARC and Don are swayed by political heat. That’s why I keep coming back to you standing firm, not giving even one millimeter of ground, and making the City Commission decide everything.
I see in your emails which I receive, that some of you, maybe even all of you, do not wish to take that approach. It’s your call to make, individually and as a community. However, you are way out of your depth trying to do this yourselves, without able legal counsel and an able architect. You need to regroup in that direction, and you need to stop trying to make deals yourselves with Jim Hendrick and city staff. In all events, this will end up before the City Commission. Don’t make it easy for them by making deals before then.
Here’s the Key West Citizen’s 2nd version of the HARC meeting, the first version was included in yesterday’s post at www.goodmorningkeyewest.com. Notice who gets almost zip voice in the article – the Meadows community.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014Peary Court planners ‘encouraged’ by HARC meeting
Plan must pass through HARC, planning board and tree commission twice
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
Planners [the developer’s paid planners] behind the redevelopment of Peary Court said Tuesday they were encouraged by what went down at a four-hour meeting before the city board that must approve designs for the 208-unit project to get it off the ground.
“There was a lot of good public participation,” said Donna Bosold, whose Critical Concerns Consultants agreed to postpone the application that failed to persuade the full Historic Architectural Review Commission on Monday night. “The process has only really begun and that’s what many people are still not aware of.”
Bosold and Jim Hendrick agreed to the postponement because they knew they would lose if it was put to a vote before the HARC commissioners.
City commissioners will have the final say on Peary Court’s plans. But first the project must advance through HARC, the planning board and twice before the tree commission, Bosold said.
Bosold, a former HARC member, and partner Jim Hendrick and Miami architect Bernard Zyscovich, were questioned, criticized and complimented during the marathon meeting at Old City Hall.
But the presentation left city staff and HARC with still unanswered questions and concerns about the scale of the project, which will include mostly single-family homes.
HARC unanimously voted to postpone the item, but did not indicate when it will return to the agenda.
Monday’s meeting was specially reserved for Peary Court, and the next one will follow suit.
“There will be a special meeting for the item since, as you saw, it requires many hours and including the item on a regular HARC agenda will be unfair to the citizens and to the rest of other applicants having regular projects in the agenda,” said Enid Torregrosa, the city’s historic preservation planner.
Unlike the Peary Court team’s first pitch 13 months ago before HARC, Monday night isn’t sending the planners back to the drawing board.
“It’s still viable, absolutely,” Bosold said of the designs. “We’re working forward.”
Peary Court’s housing designs range from 900-square foot cottages to 2,200-square foot, three-bedroom homes.
Homeowners could also choose to add a guest cottage, or “mother-in-law” unit, a 500-square foot building, to a house lot.
HARC members and neighbors of the property were largely stuck on the plans that concern the lane-like piece of Angela Street that borders the parcel which began as Navy barracks and turned into rentals for civilians.
Neighbors worried that parking problems will turn their quiet lane into a “nightmare.”
White Street Partners, which includes Everett Atwell and Nelson Stabile, bought Peary Court from the Navy and Southeast Housing, a subsidiary of Balfour Beatty, for $35 million in August.
The city’s planning department is in favor of a Peary Court that connects to Old Town unlike the most recent examples of upscale redevelopments.
“I would not wish to make the same mistake that was made with Truman Annex and create a walled-off community that is not part of the remainder of the community,” said City Planner Don Craig. “Truman Annex is not a part of Bahama Village. It is a travesty that that was allowed to occur.”
By city law, Peary Court’s owners, White Street Partners, must build 48 units of affordable housing either at the site or elsewhere.
Unlike the gated Truman Annex, Peary Court will transform from its suburban design to an urban grid that connects to Old Town via Fleming and Southard streets, architects said.
“Maybe in some ways we’re completing Old Town as was originally envisioned when the city was first created,” architect Bernard Zyscovich said at Monday’s HARC meeting. “The context is a continuation of Key West.”
The context is GREED. All the rest is smoke and mirrors. Peary Court is fine just as it is. Nothing needs to change. This is all being driven by the developer, aka GREED.
Part of Peary Court just as it is.
Main streets, alleys, bike paths and landscaping will reinvent the property, planners say. Designs call for 50 percent more parking than is required by local law and much of it will be off-street parking like neighboring blocks of Old Town.
“Our proposal for Peary Court is rooted in history,” said Zyscovich, whose presentation went back to 1829 when the area had no Palm Avenue or subdivided lots. “This was in fact the beginning of Key West.”
Zyscovich said his team has made compromises to please neighbors, who he said would prefer the project “disappear.”
As would Zyskovich, if he lived on that quiet tucked-away quiet part of Angela Street.
But the project is meant to fit into the existing neighborhoods, he said.
“All the houses are facing the street, White Street,” Zyscovich said. “Even though residents will be parking behind them. We’ve gone to the trouble of containing cars within our property. The main objective is to be an integrated partner to the rest of the city.”
The main objective is for the developer to make as much money as possible, period, the end. That also is the developer’s ONLY objective. All the rest is smoke and mirrors, period, the end.
At Shirley Freeman’s last night, Rick Boettger
introduced me to a piano artist from up Miami way as someone who takes on any and everyone on his blog. He is fearless, Rick said of me. I laughed, said, actually, fearless has nothing to do with it. I’m insane, and never think about fear. Laughter.
Actually, I think a great deal about fear of not doing what the angels give to me to do. They told me in dreams last night to continue this “chess game” with Jim Hendrick. On a conventional chessboard, I don’t fare well against him; however, this kind of chess is a bit different, because angels are calling the moves I make.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky,
for Mayor of Key West
After I published the above, the second responder wrote to me, copied to all, after another person had written it might cost $20,000 to get lawyered and architected up:
Sloan, I appreciate your comments on the Peary Court issue. However, your personal hostility to Jim Hendrick has gone off the wall. We do not choose who we deal with on the Peary Court issue. Please separate the two.
I replied to ALL:
As I wrote earlier, this is all of you’s call. My advice to you is based on a lot of objective experience.
As I also wrote earlier, you folks may wish to ask Shirley Freeman about Jim Hendrick.
And you really do need to be represented NOW by able legal counsel and by an able architect. $20,000 is peanuts compared to what is at stake, for the Angela Street residents especially.
Nothing would please me more than to be out of this discussion. I hope I am out of it. Not because I don’t like it, but because of the hell I am undergoing internally resulting from the spiritual warfare going on all around this situation in realms not of this world.
I wish you all the very best.