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Ballpark Analysis Misses Realities

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The problem with Style's analysis of the financing plan for Shockoe Center's ballpark is not Style's math (whichStyle admits was wrong), but also Style's refusal to acknowledge development realities inherent in such a large-scale project (“Shockoe Ballpark, an Economic Retention Basin?” Street Talk, Jan. 28).

If the marketplace agrees with our analysis, it is incorrect for Style to allege that the City will not receive any positive fiscal impact until the bonds are paid off in 2042. The project will be fiscally-positive to the City in its first full year — 2013 — producing more revenue than the land currently does, which is $95,000 a year. Indeed, our projections, not including any off-site growth or ripple effect, are that the City could receive about $3 million a year in new “excess” revenue.

Highwoods Properties is satisfied that its team has completed the necessary market studies and analyses here and in other similar cities to confirm Shockoe Bottom is the right place for the ballpark — and more importantly, for the surrounding private economic development.

Construction on everything (ballpark and private development) will begin and will open at the same time. This is not a “build it and they might come” private development proposal. They will already be there.

To reiterate, nothing will happen in Shockoe Center until the bonds for the ballpark are sold. To persuade bond underwriters to sell and bond buyers to buy the bonds, Shockoe Center's developers will have to secure agreements with developers and leases for tenants; in the case of retail, restaurant and office space. And these agreements and leases are better than any market study because they are real business commitments to locate in Shockoe Center. That is the ultimate market reality check.

If the marketplace does not confirm our evaluation of Shockoe Center, the bonds will not get sold, the project will not get built, and the City will not have to provide any infrastructure improvements. The development simply won't happen. But if it does get built and the project does not meet projections, the investors, not the City, will take the entire loss. City taxpayers will not be liable for any of the financing.
Peter Boisseau
Shockoe Center Development Team

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