Council grants extension to airport developers
By Tara Nelson
Plans for the redevelopment of the city’s airport were looking uncertain this week as Blaine City Council negotiated with potential developers over the 34 acres of prime industrial land in east Blaine.
One thing’s for certain, however: the city’s airport will close on December 31.
During a special meeting Monday, city council voted 5-2 to extend the deadline for a pending sale agreement of the Blaine airport by 90 days.
The amendment follows a request by Gateway LLC, a joint venture between TC Trading owner Tom Hayes and Blaine dentist Patrick Rooney, who made an offer of $5,976,500 in mid-March. That amount was later amended to $5.4 million, after the city excluded a small parcel of land currently leased by Yorky’s gas station owner Barney Yorkston.
Yorkston’s approximate one-acre triangle parcel was removed from the purchase sale agreement with Gateway after he exercised his “first right of refusal,” a legal clause that allows leaseholders to buy the property if it is ever sold.
Blaine Hardy, who represented Gateway at the meeting Monday, said they needed more time to secure funding for the project, adding that he had a few investors “at the table.” However, in response to a question from council member Scott Dodd about the likelihood of closing the sale within the 90-day time frame, he offered only vague answers.
“We’re working very close with some end users, who have vacillated until the last minute,” he said. “And while they want very much to move forward with their business, they are frightened to do so and I don’t blame them. If I were in their shoes, I would do the same thing.”
Hardy, however, added his clients were speculating what might happen within the first 30 days of the new presidency and that, “with a new breath of fresh air,” as well as a possible stimulus package and more incentives for renewable energy, the economy could be given a jumpstart to help fuel such investments.
“We are optimistic about where we’ll be headed after the first of the year,” he said. “However, we haven’t come to a place where we sat down and thought this is where we’re going with this. We want to look at all our options.”
Tomsic said Gateway will be required to make a decision about the offer by Friday. Gateway already posted a $100,000 non-refundable letter of credit earlier this year. If they accept, they will be required to pay an additional $25,000 by January 6.
Council members Paul Greenough and Scott Dodd voted no to the extension. Both said the additional $25,000 was insufficient.
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Tomsic also announced the city had received a $300,000 offer for five acres of manufacturing-zoned airport land, which it acquired through condemnation in 2005 from Blaine resident Robert Carruthers.
The offer would be paid with a $100,000 deposit followed by installments over a five year period. Tomsic, however, recommended the city council reject the offer based on legal concerns but said he would still continue discussions.