Published On: Thu, Mar 31st, 2011

Advancing Shelby?

Back in July 2007, most of the people who worked at the Farmers Market, pleaded with the city officials to not sell the place. They were willing to a rent increase in order to stay. But no, it was not to be. Even former Mayor Les Roark claimed for $1 per month and a tank of gas, that he could put this place back on track. Councilwoman Jeanette Patterson was the only official that seemed interested in what was going on. However, it fell on the deaf ears of Rick Howell, City Manager. So, it wasn’t long after that the soap opera began.
October 2007:

More feel good – do good BS from these great leaders:

The proposed plan calls for 22 apartments or condos in the upstairs section of the buildings while the downstairs area would be comprised of restaurants and retail businesses. And special consideration would be made for a coffee shop, according to Integrity Development, LLC Managing Director Frank Warlick.

“We are committed to getting a coffeehouse in that building,” Warlick said, noting uptown Shelby is currently without one.

Here is what the Shelby Star’s reporter wrote in an article dated April 8, 2008:

“It’s a vehicle to provide a group that has Shelby’s best interest at heart,” said Shelby City Manager Rick Howell, the mind behind the organization.

In September 2008, one could read the proverbial writing on the wall.

Face, meet palm:

Howell said the city will look at several factors when determining which proposal, if any, the city staff will recommend to the council. He said the level of investment and the ability to follow through financially with the plan will be taken into consideration.

“The city’s goal is for there to be a positive, private investment so it goes back on the tax roll,” said Howell. “The last thing we want to do is sell it and have it sit there.”

It all started when City Manager Rick Howell decided to jump into the project development business and work with a corporation that would see these projects through. Was this a conflict of interest regarding his paid job as the City Manager? Why would a city manager help set up a non-profit to do something to oversee a project, when as the city manager, would have him in a similar position? To me, it seems to be a conflict because the City pretty much gave a piece of property and a building to Rick Howell and his Advance Shelby, and then Howell offed it to Frank Warlick of so aptly named, Integrity Development, LLC. who then, took his LLC to the bank, borrowed the max on the place, and that was it. Except for some cheap fencing that closed off the parking lot on the west side of the building, and some boarded-up windows, no work was done, no payment made, nothing but cut and run. So, Mr. Howell, how have you benefited the City here? Careful. This is only the first article of many in a series that will continue until the complete story is told. There are many more players, movers and shakers, with dirty, greedy palms, and there will be many questions that need to be addressed. Understand that the building that housed the Farmers Market, would now belong to the bank. So. who got the money for the building? Integrity Development, LLC received some money from the bank.

Howell stated also that Advance Shelby Unlimited Inc. would “act as a catalyst in future projects, working with developers to address “blighted” properties and areas citywide.”

Has Warlick or Integrity Development, LLC been approached or even pursued, to hold them accountable for their “busted project” or the lack of integrity? Nah, it’s too easy to blame it on the economy. I mean, it’s not like the economy wasn’t already bad before this bunch agreed to take on this project. Yea, that’s insight, Mr. Howell. Another misstep like that, and you’ll be unaffordable. Maybe not for you, but for the bulk of the people who have to pony up for your crap shoots that fail. Look at the great ad and buildup of what was to come.

To quote, again:

“There are lots of scenarios,” he said. “That role is better for that type of group – a private non-profit group – to do those kinds of things instead of a city getting involved.”

The board membership isn’t finalized yet, Howell said, and more information will be available in the coming weeks.

Mr. Howell, you, as city manager are already involving the city. Imagine if Shelby were getting what it’s paying for? Oh, and did your LLC ever get a board? I can’t recall reading about it if you did. Allow me to quote Mr. Howell once again:

“The city’s role is to monitor the situation,” Howell said. “The developer has things they’re expected to do,” which are outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed in May.

Kinda like the city folks such as yourself monitored that Ultimate Concerts thing, huh? Excellent.

Moving along to December 2008

On December 1, 2008, the Farmers Market was officially closed. And with it, many people and several businesses were screwed, by the mind of Advance Shelby, Inc. Back in October of 2008, according to the Awen Group, an application was submitted and approved in October to list the property in the National Register of Historic Places. And now look at that place. I don’t think this kind of urban is what most folks had in mind.

January 2009 brings:

Hope and change…to Shelby.

April Fool’s Day, 2010:

Corner of Stuck and Limbo.

The buck continues to be passed. One realtor says talk to Integrity Development, but they’re not answering the phone. Rick Howell is still babbling about what he knows is hearsay. Hearsay, from the “mind behind Advance Shelby” who was supposed to be working in tandem with Integrity?

April 11, 2010: Let’s put this baby to bed.

Foreclosure. That’s hardly a rousing start to a career in Advancing Shelby, unless you’re the bank…or Integrity Development.

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