|a twinkle in his shifty eyes and a few tricks up his sleeve. . .|
A-Marting We Will Go, Again!
Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa’s eyes are twinkling.
And reindeer bells are tinkling.
It’s that time of year again, the time of mistletoe and holly,
The time of Marting’s madness and Albrecht’s folly.
Like others, when I read in the Portsmouth Daily Times (26 Nov. 2012: click here) that the Building (or Bilking) Committee is recommending tearing down both the Marting building and the former Adelphia building, and replacing them with a new Municipal Building and a new Justice Center, I thought they’ve got to be kidding. Has the Daily Times become the Daily Show of the print medium? Is Frank Lewis Stephen Colbert, reporting preposterous stories with a straight face? How in the world is Portsmouth going to come up with the money? Isn’t this the city that’s under fiscal watch and isn’t it the seat of Scioto County, the first county that the State of Ohio ever put on fiscal watch?
Perhaps fearing sticker shock, the PDT article apparently didn’t dare print the estimated total cost of the two building projects, but if you do the math on the basis of the figures provided—$200 a square foot for each of the proposed 75,000 square feet, that comes out to $15 million dollars, but I’ve been told the $200 a foot is not an estimate but a fantasy. The two existing buildings, for those who might not know their sordid histories, were virtually empty worthless properties that were unloaded on the city and its taxpayers with the connivance of two crooked city officials: Mayor Greg Bauer in the case of the Marting building and appointed First Ward councilman shyster Mike Mearan in the case of the Adelphia building. The city foolishly paid almost $2 million for the Marting building and in the case of the freaking, leaking, black-molded Adelphia building, the city acquired, or got stuck with, the property by doing no more than excusing the delinquent back taxes and allowing the Los Angeles absentee landlord to claim it was a charitable gift to the city, providing him a write off on his income taxes.
I believe that what has long indirectly driven the downtown Marting nuttiness is Jeffrey Albrecht’s determination to get control, directly or indirectly, of the land on which the Municipal Building sits, right across from his new Holiday Inn. He has doubled down on his original investment mistake, the Ramada Inn, the Queen of the Rust Belt, and before the Holiday Inn too proves a financial failure, he is going to do everything he can to convince the naïve and gullible that the Municipal Building has got to come down, no matter what the cost to taxpayers. The Municipal Building is about the same age as the U.S. Post Office, just up the street, and is of the same design and constructed of the same materials, so why is the one supposed to be at death’s door while the other is an architectural treasure of the city? Because corrupt city officials and greedy developers have been trying for some time to kill the eighty-year-old gal to get the valuable ground on which she rests. That’s why.
The history of Portsmouth real estate is replete with examples of well-to-do well-connected owners unloading overvalued but nearly worthless property on the taxpayers. It goes with the territory. The Bilking Committee recommends that all unoccupied, unessential property “be sold absolutely at auction.” Absolutely? At auction? Presumably that means all unused city property deemed unessential will be sold at auction, positively, post-haste, without question. I think this is the Jeffrey Albrecht provision in the Bilking Committee’s recommendations. In a recent article in the PDT, he predicted property would soon be bought and sold in downtown Portsmouth (i.e., in the vicinity of the Holiday Inn), and he said he hoped that property owners would not be greedy and ask too much of buyers. He obviously had not only heard but probably had something to do with the recommendations the Bilking Committee came up with. Buy cheap and sell dear is the first law of real estate, but Albrecht wants that law suspended, or reversed, because he or his accomplices will be the ones doing the buying. As long as something is built on the Municipal Building site that will create more business for the Holiday Inn, he will be for it, no matter what it is or what it will cost taxpayers. And of course, he wants the Municipal Building to be auctioned off. We know how adept he is reputed to be at rigging auctions because the state attorney general came close to taking legal action against him after shenanigans that took place at a controversial auction in Athens.
Yes, Santa’s got a twinkle in his shifty eyes and a few tricks up his sleeve, for this is the season of Marting’s madness and Albrecht’s folly.