Friday, November 4, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 11/04/2011 11:45:00 PM
O. Palmer Gillis PGillis@gillisgilkerson.com (410) 749-4821
Bradley J. Gillis Bradley.Gillis@svn.com (410) 543-2491
RE: Council deals deathblow to Downtown
Downtown Salisbury is our community’s place of business, it is our center of commerce,
and it is the heart and identity of Salisbury. The Gillis’s are hug fans of downtown, the
Firehouse and Feldman’s projects would have benefited the community for years to
The redevelopment of both the former Firehouse and the former Feldman’s Building
would have created a surge of interest in our community; and shown community interest
The Gillis’s were completing a community service by redeveloping these buildings much
like when Palmer Gillis coordinated donations for the City Park Bandstand renovation to
get the project off dead center, which allowed the City to leverage donations into funding
for the historic footbridge restoration years ago.
Completing the Feldman’s project would have involved extensive involvement and
cooperation with the City for the donation of lands (donated to the City) and clearing for
a future river walk, open space funding, right of ways and historic approvals, etc.
Since the Council did not grant the Gillis’s the ability to move forward with the
Firehouse and restore, reuse this historical valuable downtown building by creating a
regional self-supporting, hospitality destination, if they continue to be an impediment to
progress, if they continue to lack vision and do not lead, the former Feldman’s building
will not be redeveloped.
Palmer states, “These book-end projects could of had a huge impact on the heart and soul
of our community, based on what I am seeing from the Council I do not believe these
projects can be achieved, real estate development requires a certain reliability,
cooperation and clarity from both parties, which the Council has not demonstrated.”
“For three years my son Brad Gillis and I have invested time, energy and money into the
Firehouse and begun work on the former Feldman’s Building, these buildings have
served as centers of commerce and community service for years, and it’s time for them to
be redeveloped and repurposed,” added Palmer.
These projects were a giant leap toward the revitalization of downtown however because
the Council lacks vision and the ability to lead, they are an impediment to progress and
directly delay bringing new infill development to downtown.
“Investment of bricks and mortar projects starts the real downtown redevelopment
process. We have over 30 years of downtown development expertise, we are funded, we
have tenants, and were ready to see the redevelopment of downtown take place now,”
Palmer continues to add “The extreme haste in which the Council yanked away the
Firehouse bid, without a valid reason does not provide for a stable reliable partner in
either the Firehouse transaction or the Feldman’s restoration.”
“The Council had a once in a lifetime opportunity to single handedly spark the downtown
revitalization with their vote to move forward with our proposal, since they choose not to,
the negative affect of this misstep will be felt for a longtime,” Palmer and Brad said.
This was the Council’s chance to take an action that will directly correlate to
redevelopment and revitalization of the downtown. This was their chance to stop fighting
progress, and be involved in two wonderful redevelopments.
The City Council motion in-haste not to extend our negotiating period on September 26,
2011 was a deathblow to downtown.
Since 2007 the Council has exhaustively discussed the direction of the Firehouse. The
City has declared through a complex public process the building to be surplus and
requested proposals, then in the summer of 2009 worked thru a public procurement
The City received two qualified bids; one bid was from Palmer and Brad Gillis. Over a
year of work sessions and addressing numerous questions one bidder withdrew the bid;
he was fed up with the lengthy, unfriendly process. The other bidder invested his time in
business-friendly Berlin, where he pursued his concept in their business friendly
community. He now is fully operational and continues to become a vital part of Berlin’s
Over a year from the submission date the Gillis proposal was awarded the bid on
December 13, 2010. The award started the process to implement the City’s, UMES’s and
Urban Salisbury’s vision of creating a Hospitality Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute.
“This was the City’s and UMES’s idea, not ours, we were using our experience as real
estate professionals and our capital to set the stage for an idea the City, UMES and Urban
Salisbury created and successfully study in 2009,” said Brad.
At the award of bid the Gillis’ were instructed by the Council to work with city
administration to finalize the disposition agreement.
Following the direct order from the Council on December 23, 2010 the Gillis’s met with
Mr. Wilber and Mr. Pick to discuss the “Procedural Outline to Settlement Document,”
which states all parties are to have the ‘preparation’ of the disposition agreement
‘complete’ within (60) sixty days of award of bid.
During our initial meeting in December three specific issues such as water and sewer
allocation, public open space funded properties and the deeding of the road bed to the
Gillis’ were discussed. Answers were received on only two questions on April 7, 2011,
well beyond (60) sixty days from the award of bid. In addition the Council did not act to
create the utility easement for Market Street which would have taken months of
legislative action by the Council, which has not been completed to date.
The Council was not in the position (60) sixty days after the award of bid to ‘complete’ a
“Since being directed by the Council in December of 2010 to work with the city
administration we have continued to have clear and consistent communication with the
city administration,” said Brad.
“We were communicating with the City, unknown to us during these meetings and
discussions the Council felt as if they were not being kept informed, the Council failed to
take the initiative or responsibility to even ask during this time period,” noted Palmer.
Below is the timeline of events:
• July 2009- Request for Proposals for the former Firehouse goes public
• December 2009- Bids were received
• April-November 2010
o Responding to addendum is given to the bidders, requesting clarification
o Met with Historical Commission regarding the plan
o Multiple work session to discuss the bids
o Second responder drops out because of delays from the City Council
• December 13, 2010- 12 months City Council awards the bid to the Gillis’s
• December 23, 2010-At City Councils direction we met with city administration to
begin negotiations on the disposition contract and provided instructions to
• January 28, 2011- received a draft disposition agreement from the city
• February 11, 2011- received answers regarding EDU, water and sewer allocation
• April 7, 2011- received answers regarding Program Open Space funding from the
Maryland Attorney Generals Office
• April thru May 2011- continued to fulfill the education component of our
proposal. Continued to give updates to the city administration as instructed by the
City Council on a bi-weekly basis and monthly basis
• June-September 2011- finalized the educational component of our proposal
• September 2, 2011- received confirmed final written support from University of
Maryland Eastern Shore for the educational component of our proposal
• September 13, 2011- Sent a disposition agreement incorporating the confirmed
final educational component from University of Maryland Eastern Shore to the
• September 19, 2011- Met with City Council and three senior delegation members
from University of Maryland Eastern Shore to finalize our proposal
• September 26, 2011- City Council votes not to terminate award of bid
“After over two years of working thru the city processes, even with clear and consistent
communication with the city, the rug was snatched out from under our proposal,” says
Real estate transactions have normal missteps, most are cured, and the Council has
created an even further significant misstep. The realty is these projects are collateral
damage in the negative relationship between the Council and the Mayor.
Palmer said “Working in good faith for months with the City, we were completely
surprised when they voted to terminate our proposal; we thought having three high level
officials’ from UMES at the work session on September 19th showed the council the
strength and progress of the transaction, but the Council decided to eviscerate two years’
worth of effort in seven days, after having taken a year to actually award the bid, As I
have said before to the Council, if they see a better plan or vision we will gladly stand
down and step aside, so far we have not had a reply.”
“The strategic partnerships we formed would have transformed the firehouse into a
sustainable multi-event venue for the citizens of Salisbury incorporating culinary and
visual/performing arts within the Arts and Entertainment District,” said Palmer.
“Our proposal would have hosted local causes and groups, the building would be home to
events such as shows, banquets, wine tastings, dinners-theaters, non-profit events (Life
Crisis Center and the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce have already hosted events),
community group meetings, and local governmental meeting, but so far the Council
continues to block progressive ideas such as these, what more do they want?” Brad
Synergy with local hospitality establishments will enhance the image of downtown
Salisbury by adding pedestrian movement of downtown. This project was a step toward
downtown’s vitality, having a true positive impact on the city and the City Council has
sent a message to the downtown community, they are not concerned with our
community’s heart, its downtown.
Real Estate developers’ measure risk and reward, the Firehouse is high risk and has no
monetary reward and the Feldman’s building has high risk and low reward. Wanting to
seize the good will and positive impact for downtown the Gillis’s pursued the former
Feldman’s Building a 20,000 SF parcel of land and about 45,000 SF of improvements
and a two million dollar redevelopment project. The building was originally a general
store owned by a distance relative of the Gillis’s, B.L. Gillis and later was sold to the
Feldman family to be used as a furniture store.
The City has ordered the building demolished.
To save this historically significant building the Gillis’s proposed professional office and
potentially retail space. Positioned well within the downtown because of parking along
Market Street, visibility along Mill Street and the river frontage along the Wicomico
River, it is ideal for redevelopment.
Having spent time and money to develop a site plan to allow for additional onsite
parking, river accessibility, having met the Historical Commission to review the design;
the project is well into the process.
The plan would have allowed this historically significant building to be saved from
demolition and bring life back to this area of downtown within the next 18 months.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 11/04/2011 07:27:00 PM
Change is cooking: The Economist: America's Missing Middle
WE NEED HARRY POTTER: No Labels Co-Founder and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association Gary Shapiro says the Super Committee is fighting the 'deficit dragon.' Leadership needs to work together to slay the beast: Gary Shapiro for The Huffington Post: Can the Supercommittee Slay the Deficit Dragon?
FISCAL DISCIPLINE? Some lawmakers are suggesting that if the Super Committee fails, subsequent automatic cuts will be scaled back. Watering down self-imposed consequences is not the way to get things done: Seung Min Kim and Scott Wong for POLITICO: Trigger-unhappy lawmakers eye exit
REVENUES -- NOT TAXES -- SAYS BOEHNER: Speaker Boehner says the Super Committee should not raise taxes, but should consider other ways of increasing revenues: Russell Berman for The Hill: Boehner on supercommittee: Tax increases are out, revenues could be in
SMALL VICTORIES FOR THE ECONOMY: The unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, from 9.1 percent to 9 percent. Meanwhile, Congress deadlocked over jobs bills: Vicki Needham for The Hill: The economy adds 80,000 jobs in October
REFORM GOVERNMENT: Today, Jim Kessler, the co-founder and senior vice president for policy at Third Way gives the latest No Labels Congressional Reform telling Congress to abandon partisan seating. Click here to join the conversation on PolicyMic.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 11/04/2011 03:00:00 PM
Food pantry donations being accepted at Tawes Oil Building. Blue Crab Crossing/Tawes Bros. Oil Co. located at 907 West Main Street. Will service as a drop-off for the food pantry at Immanuel United Methodist Church. Non-perishable items will be accepted and redistributed to the needy in the community at the church as scheduled.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 11/04/2011 12:23:00 PM
Ok I am finally going to come clean on my motives for getting people riled up regarding Democrat vs Republican. I sort of gave the answer in my guilty of antagonism post but want to give the full details. It is important in life sometimes to see who your true friends are and is it just because you agree with everything they do. Push buttons tell them something completely opposite what they believe and if you can still laugh and sit for coffee they are a true friend. I have been saddened by seeing some people who I thought were good friends turn into totally different people when you dare have a different view than them. I guess some friendships rely on you agreeing 100% with each other.
The No Labels movement is what I believe in. I am not a Republican or a Democrat even though I am registered Republican. I have really seen an ugly side of people and I really don't want to say Republican party but the way far right people and the way far left. I wanted to push those peoples buttons and honestly I got exactly what I wanted seeing some peoples true colors. This country has got to come off of party lines to get things done and I wanted to tap into the hatred out there to see if things has gotten better but I can tell you they haven't. It is on both sides my way or the highway which is precisely why we are suffering. Look at some of the comments I published. Socialist Pig, Wet Pants Liberal, the name calling out there is amazing. It actually makes me sad that as fellow AMERICANS we would do that to one another because of a difference of opinion.
I don't want Government hand outs and welfare babies or Illegal Aliens getting a free pass. I want the people in this Country to work together like the No Labels is about to get things done and drop the rhetoric. I have no desire to deal with far reaching global news unless it affects us in our area so to anyone who got all huffy I apologize but I have strong enough shoulders to deal with the nonsense and it was very important for me to see peoples reactions when I said the opposite of what they wanted to hear. Please give No Labels a look on right hand side and tune in at 3 every day for the hot topics of the day post. Sadly one of the biggest thing people look for out of these sites is entertainment and when 80% of the people agree with what your saying you are not going to get much response, flip it around and say you are in the 20% and wow that's how you get people talking. Back to our regular schedule and thanks for understanding
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 11/04/2011 09:00:00 AM