Nothing but fine steaks, Limos & Liquor for our consultants hired to bring the Urban to Suburban Johns Creek.
There is an astounding number of expenses charged to the city revealed in Freedom of Information requests regarding the redevelopment planning of the District.
Under the guise of fear of fiscal uncertainty, Mayor Mike Bodker wanted to ‘start a conversation’ on how to get a better yield on private property in Tech Park, with the theory we could be more like our neighbors, change the ratio of being a primarily residential community and create vibrancy & economic development.
This hypothesis led the City to hire Urban Design Associates (UDA) for $250k. After UDA’s first trip in January, they billed the City for their expenses stating it was not approved in their scope of work.
In reviewing the contract, these trips were indicated as part of the agreement. It states the consultant is responsible for all costs and expenses incurred.
Yet, on Nov 25th, 2014, UDA had an ‘informative conversation’ with City Manager Warren Hutmacher and proposes a $20k increase. City Manager presents the UDA contract to Council on Dec 15th for $250k and omits the $20k. City Manager requested a change order in February and increased the contract to $270k, after receiving the bills in January.
Many invoices billed to UDA are past due and appear to have gone unpaid for services rendered by subcontractors.
Other Expenses of interest charged to the City:
- Receipt for Bic pen. They came to Johns Creek so unprepared we need to buy them a $4.99 pen at Staples.
- Penny phone calls (.12cents, .33cents, etc).
- “A Limousine Service” chauffeured the Urban Design Associate employees, individually to and from the airport in Pittsburgh.
- The hotel room was charged 2x.
- Printing: $7256
- Marketing/Advertising: $3493
- Commercials at the Regal Cinema: $8525
- The City hired an additional Assistant City Manager, Eric Taylor to spearhead this project.
Unknown Costs are Steep
Multiple staff was embedded in this project. Communications, Community Development & other staff worked many hours including nights on the District planning and presentations.
The City Manager and 2 assistant City Managers also traveled up to Pittsburgh April 8th for 1 night. That cost the City a few thousand.
This was days before UDA visited Johns Creek on 4/13 for the Charrette Presentation. Charrettes tested different types of density. Many of you can recall the Apartments Galore, which posted those charrettes.
Ernest Moosa was disappointed with the UDA presentation and that they were staying at a hotel in Tech Park. He suggested during a city council meeting, UDA stay in Peachtree Corners and commute 141 to experience the congestion the locals do. He even offered to drive them around town personally to show them how difficult it is to traverse the City.
UDA submitted the following Revisions #4, June 12th. They propose 806 ‘Stacked Flats’ (Apartments) 50 Townhomes, along with 2 million+ more square feet of office space and retail. 39 acres are identified as open space, that includes parks, buffers, and sidewalks. 12,000 parking spaces with parking structure and surface parking.
Demolition plans are also included. Shockingly, one of the nicer shopping areas in the city (141 and MGF) are suggested to go in the proposal.
Staff Continues to Spend Money & Time…
A Few days later on June 15, Community Development director Mrs. Sharon Ebert gave her update to the City Council on the district and stated a Vibrant downtown needs density, and we need feet on the street.
Mrs. Ebert recommended 2500 residential units in the Canal section of the District, the first desired to be developed of 6 subsections. She also indicated 275,000 sq ft retail, 1,000,000 office space & 300,000 civic space to equate to a vibrant downtown. She has previous work experience with UDA from up North.
The City hired more engineers to study the feasibility of building a man-made canal in Tech Park. Those costs are unknown at this point. The City also hired Strategic Planning Group to develop an economic plan, for $42k. This plan presents a blueprint for the District.
Information from the freedom of information act is not free. This records request was a challenge for senior staff. It took about 3 weeks to compile and $52. Unfortunately, the City does not keep the tally of the total cost of the District.
It is disappointing the City does not operate in an organized fiscal manner. It is even more disappointing to see our tax dollars spent in this manner, while we sit in traffic, while City Staff is planning private property for more people and traffic.
Source: City of Johns Creek