Real Estate Committee
Meeting Minutes

Date:   September 23, 2013

Location:  Park District Administration Office

Time:  8:15 p.m.

Attendance: Committee:   Chair J. Olvany, J. Crowley, J. Brault
  Commissioners: Benz 
  Absent:  None
  Staff:      S. Wilson, K. Bingham, J. Bowen, S. Donoghue,
B. Lambrecht

Agenda Topics:
1. Call to Order
2. Approval of June 11, 2012 Regular Meeting Minutes
3. Approval of June 11, 2012 Closed Session Minutes
4. Communications and Correspondence
5. Recognition of Visitors
6. Adjourn Regular Meeting

Discussion Items

1. The meeting was called to order at 8:08 pm
2. The Committee approved the Regular meeting minutes of June 11, 2012.

3. The Committee approved the Closed Session meeting minutes of June 11, 2012.

4. Communications and Correspondence – None
5. Recognition of Visitors – None

6. Commissioner Brault stated that in regard to the MWRD lease for the Sheridan Shore Yacht Club the Committee thought this could be possibly included as a part of the lakefront master plan so we wanted to gather some facts and then ultimately bring it to the full Board. His opinion is that this is something we should do and to make our intentions known publicly. The lease expires in early 2016.

Director Wilson distributed a document from the MWRD’s web site containing all of the details including that the lease expires on February 12, 2016. He also did some additional research and discovered that the actual date of the lease expiration was March 6, 2016. Chair Brault asked if the MWRD had an extension option and Director Wilson replied no but the MWRD has expressed their willingness to talk directly with us prior to engaging in a public bid process. Director Wilson added that the MWRD has also spoken with the Park District’s attorney.

Director Wilson added that the size of the property is .5 acres and there are 1.02 acres which includes half of the parking area but we are not sure if the parking is part of the Harbor Association so we believe it’s basically the building. In addition, the new leases that the MWRD is currently writing all prohibit alcohol on the premises. When asked if that was a hard and fast rule the answer was that in the Illinois Liquor Control Act there’s actually a specific part carved out for all MWRD properties which provides that they have the wherewithal to determine how, if and what is permitted on their premises per the lease. For example, they could say to us that if we were to pursue this lease and if we applied for it, they could say yes, no, or just beer and wine for example. Superintendent Lambrecht stated that the size of the building is approximately 4,000 square feet and that number includes the downstairs. The room size upstairs is about the same as the big room in Lakeview Center so it’s currently not very large. Chair Brault stated that the facility does have a full-service kitchen with plumbing according to Mr. Dominick. Director Wilson added that he doesn’t think any of the leases are more than 40 years currently.

Commissioner Benz asked the Committee if they thought pursuing this lease in public would be a good idea. Chair Olvany replied that yes, he thinks if we are going to pursue it we should be doing that in public discussion. He also thinks we should make our intentions known by having a public hearing.

Commissioner Benz stated it sounds reasonable but he would not be that exuberant about pursuing the lease since the timing is very important and the public has already spoken positively about the block/pier/fishing jetty which is in fact part of the WHA lease. The logical scenario for the WHA is that Sheridan Shore is really their clubhouse since two-thirds of the membership are WHA members as well. So at the moment we make a public statement about this building to the public but we have no idea whether the general public would think this was a good idea or not. However, he does know that if that occurred, our opportunity to do anything with the stone jetty could disappear completely.

Communications Manager Shelagh Donoghue stated she thought it was a good idea to be transparent in your transactions even if it could possibly cost you goodwill or being able to negotiate the jetty. If it’s the Committee’s intent to start a conversation then you should start that conversation in public. Director Wilson responded that as much as he agrees with everything that Commissioner Benz has felt, there would be negative impact to start this conversation in any future closed session meetings as it would be viewed as relating to Sheridan Shore and/or the jetty.

Commissioner Brault stated that from Sheridan Shore’s point of view, there could be a lot of other people who would be interested in that property. He also thinks the WHA and Sheridan Shore might be really happy to have the Park District continue to be members. Chair Olvany stated that in regard to running a small piece of land that is adjacent to water and doesn’t need to be repaired could work since there are not many harbor-side locations in the greater Chicagoland area. Commissioner Brault stated that in terms of whether or not to discuss this in public, he thinks it’s something we should do in public. President Crowley stated he definitely thinks we should do this in public and not behind closed doors. The rest of the Committee agreed.

Commissioner Brault indicated that the next step will be to ask staff to put together a short fact sheet on the building and property and whether it includes a kitchen or other amenities and present that to the Board. Commissioner Olvany stated that he has already been on the web site to determine how we would be able to look at the schematics. Superintendent Lambrecht stated he could speak with the Village’s Building Department and ask if they hold any permits. Chair Olvany added that without going to the current occupants, which we will have to do at some stage, we will need to find out the current status of the building.

Commissioner Brault stated that the intent of this discussion is to include this into the master plan so he thinks we need to provide some level of current conditions to the Board. Commissioner Brault added that the important data would be the floor plans, the potential occupancy on each floor, number of bathrooms, an-ADA compliant kitchen, and an accessible entrance in the front of the building. Superintendent Lambrecht stated that we could figure out the occupancy based on the square footage of the space. Chair Olvany asked if we knew when they host an event how many people are allowed in the facility. Superintendent Lambrecht stated Sheridan Shore would have to come up with that information. Director Wilson stated when he was on their web site he saw the room set up and the interior was almost a T-shape with a “family room-like” area and the dining room was also T-shape with six rounds tables in that small space which made him think that they rent out the long end for larger events. Superintendent Bingham stated that according to staff’s research in regard to pricing, they said there was space for 200 people standing and 150 seated but the pricing was for 200 people standing. Commissioner Brault added that when we looked at the Lakeview Center do we need to add $400,000 to get occupancy from 80 to 125. Chair Olvany stated he thought it would be worthwhile to do some research and he thinks the timing makes a lot of sense.

Shelagh Donoghue stated that if we put Sheridan Shore in the master plan and if we are hoping to present the master plan in November, then there will definitely be public discussion since we would be looking for public input on that topic. Commissioner Brault replied then that is why he thinks the time is right. President Crowley stated that Chair Olvany could bring it to the Board since it would be a recommendation from this committee for approval. Commissioner Brault added that he thinks the Board should vote on whether or not to have this item included in the plan in order to have an official record of the recommendation which would then be provided to the consultants.

President Crowley asked if we pursued this separately from the Lakefront Plan how would we reconcile that with JJR in terms of the master plan. On the hand, would it be in the master plan as a deferred program. Chair Olvany stated it would involve two steps and the first step would be to get the data back to the Real Estate Committee to figure out what our recommendation is at least once a month or so. Commissioner Brault stated he thought the consensus was that we would be recommending this to the Board at the next meeting on October 14, 2013. Chair Olvany suggested we just recommend doing this right now and then make the recommendation subject to reviewing some documents of what the building looks like.

Commissioner Brault stated the two parts of this issue are do we pursue the lease independently from the master plan or do we go to the Board as a Committee and recommend that the Board pursue the lease. Once that decision is made, we would then either go back to the Lakefront Committee or the full Board to make a recommendation to include this as part of the master plan.

Commissioner Benz stated that while we are undergoing lease negotiations and we come out with a master plan, the lease could be a “lightning rod” for the master plan which could be a good thing. President Crowley stated he though the only issue was going to be what happens at Lakeview Center which could determine whether to make facility larger to accommodate 150 seats or make it part of a deferred program to see what happens with the lease. Commissioner Brault stated that the master plan might say we do that over time anyway.

President Crowley asked if we included the pier in the master plan and Commissioner Brault replied we included it in the plan for consideration but with the understanding that we don’t own or control it so if that information becomes public, the WHA will know that we’re looking at the pier as well. Director Wilson stated that the WHA President has already been informed and he was not resistant to it in any fashion. We also informed them about the portion of the master plan recommendation to renovate and rebuild the harbor walk east of the Coast Guard station and asked them if they had any thoughts. They replied that there is a dock down there that seems to be the center of their issues because it’s dark and prone to vandalism. They were also in favor of finding ways to better control access. There was also discussion by the WHA about the south area of Sheridan Road and pursuing a harbor walk there as well. In addition, they would be willing to work with us.

President Crowley stated he is thinking about the idea of bringing the pier into the conversation with the WHA and rest of us. Commissioner Brault stated he thought we should keep the pier separate at the moment because this is something he thinks will be controlled independently of the WHA and if we control it, our negotiating position would be significantly better.

President Crowley moved and Chair Olvany seconded a motion to recommend the Board pursue the Sheridan Shore lease which is due in March of 2016 and for staff to investigate and negotiate with the MWRD.

By Voice Vote, voting Yes – All; voting No – None. Absent – None. Motion Carried.

7. Adjournment – With no further business to discuss, the Committee adjourned at 8:19  pm.