Apex owners: Unfortunate that it’s come to this

Apex owners: Unfortunate that it’s come to this

PAWTUCKET – The years-long standoff between the city of Pawtucket and the owners of the downtown Apex property doesn’t appear ready to end anytime soon, with the owners last week saying they were essentially pushed into a corner on filing another lawsuit against city officials.

“It is very unfortunate for the taxpayers of Pawtucket that it has come to this, but Apex Development was forced to file this suit after years of cooperating with the city and attempting to engage in reasonable negotiations, an effort that has only been met with harsh and unsubstantiated rhetoric from the city’s advisers,” said the company in a statement responding to a Breeze story last week on the company suing city officials in their personal capacities.

One of the main points made in the company’s latest legal action over the redevelopment of the property is that the city’s threats of condemnation for the old department store have resulted in lost value for the property and frozen redevelopment efforts.

In a 2016 appeal by the company to the city, which was previously reported on by The Breeze, the company contested its city property tax value of $4.29 million, saying the current market value at the time was a much lower $3.577 million. That appeal was later denied.

The Breeze previously reported that the Apex owners were at one point seeking upward of $20 million for their property to have it be used for an earlier planned baseball stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

While city officials have said that Apex officials haven’t acted in good faith in negotiations, company representatives say they and their team of advisers have “negotiated in good faith, been extremely responsive, and (have) put fair offers on the table.”

“The resources Apex Development has expended on this matter are too numerous to count,” they stated. “Nevertheless, Apex Development remains committed to working with the city in good faith.”

Commerce Director Jeanne Boyle said for last week’s story that the owners have consistently refused to work in good faith with officials, “most recently highlighted (their) attempts to block a routine and legally authorized environmental test of their properties,” and have obstructed redevelopment along the riverfront for far too long.

Officials have rejected the demand from Apex that the results of needed testing on the site be kept confidential, while Apex owners say a lack of confidentiality could put them at risk of the city backing out of a deal and them being exposed for extensive costs.

Back in 2017, The Breeze reported on questions surrounding a claimed $6.5 million in cleanup costs at the property, a number Apex owners were demanding from Teknor Apex even as Teknor Apex representatives filed a lawsuit stating that the property contamination had been resolved with prior measures and that the $6.5 million Apex was seeking was to restore the property to “pristine condition.” If future excavation was done, all that would need to be done was to restore existing caps, according to studies commissioned by the city, said Chief of Staff Dylan Zelazo at the time.

Apex owners said in their statement last week that the city’s narrative that they have implemented “stall tactics and obstructionism” simply doesn’t hold water, saying it is a false narrative that will not stand the test of time or hold up in court.

“Apex Development has every confidence that they will prevail in court. When all of the facts are disclosed, it will be clear that the substantive and sincere efforts Apex Development made in an attempt to work with the city regarding sale of the properties were not met with a serious response,” they said. “In fact, there are many instances where offers and requests for information went without a response from the city for many months and more than a year in at least one instance. All of this occurred while Apex Development had its own development plans frozen as the city pursued its goals.”

With the baseball stadium no longer in play and the Pawtucket Red Sox moved to Worcester, Mass., the city is seeking to acquire the mostly vacant Apex properties to make way for new public park space and private investment along the riverfront and near a new planned soccer stadium and surrounding development.

Developers of nearby properties have expressed frustration over what they say is a seeming lack of motivation by Apex owners to redevelop the property.

“As a proud business owner in Pawtucket, it’s embarrassing to see how Andrew Gates is conducting himself as relates to the Apex site,” said Jeremy Duffy, owner of The Guild brewery on Main Street, in a tweet last week. “As owner, he has no plan and does not care about the city and its economic future.”

Comments

Can these guys just go away please. We don't need your empty ziggurat wasting space...Pawtucket is trying to do something over here. Thanks.