Clock Tower developer Bob Forrest paid $4.1M for the Clock Tower building and for the properties at 184-194 Main Street South. We know because he told us. This is shown on the slide (right) which was presented to councillors in May 2016.
Bob snapped up the old Post Office building for $2,340,000 in March 2011. It was an astute move. It had been on the market for $3,275,000.
As long ago as June 2011 he was briefing councillors on his "Clock Tower concept".
Later, he bought the buildings to the south of the Clock Tower (184-194 Main Street South) for $1,760,000 from Michael Bryan.
Winks and Nudges
Bob says there is no truth in the rumour that he was encouraged to press ahead with his Clock Tower development because he was given winks and nudges.
The Mayor, Tony Van Trappist, was incandescent at the very suggestion that winks and nudges might have played a part in getting us to where we are now. Preposterous!
On 3 May 2017, Ira Kagan, Forrest's lawyer and consiglieri, told the first OMB pre-hearing there was a "tacit agreement" between Bob and the Town which, I suppose, is lawyer-speak for a nod and a wink. Anyway, it never came to anything.
At the OMB witnesses are under oath to tell the truth so if anything turns on this so-called tacit agreement it will all come out in the wash.
Bob has invested a huge amount of time on this project and it seems he can't let go.
Bob's Tax Burden
Keeping the Main Street properties empty is costing him an arm and a leg. Bob evicted his business tenants on the pretext of redevelopment and, instead of getting a steady stream of rental income, he has been shelling out money to the Town in property taxes ever since. Some tenants shut up shop in May 2014. The last tenant left in September 2014.
The property taxes (Town, regional and school board) on the Clock Tower building were $21,370.53 in 2016. As a residential property it is ineligible for a vacancy rebate. The other buildings in Bob's ownership (184-194 Main Street South) are deemed mixed use residential and commercial and the tax levied last year was $21,185.13. I do not know what was paid to the Town because this is regarded as private and confidential. I also don't know if Bob applied for an empty property rebate.
In any event, all this constitutes a drain on Bob's resources. The mortgage repayments - if he still has a mortgage - must be colossal. I know Bob took out a mortgage on the Clock Tower property for $3,000,000 on 9 September 2013 with PACE Savings and Credit Union but I don't know where things currently stand. I haven't paid the obligatory $30 to check with the Land Registry recently.
Stuck in the Superior Court
The future is, of course, uncertain. Bob now has to budget for the action brought by the Town in the Superior Court which is being heard on 20 October 2017. My lawyer friends who know about such things tell me the application and any subsequent trial could be stuck in the Court for, perhaps, well over a year. Think of the expense!
On 23 October 2012, Bob sent the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer Bob Shelton an email threatening to pull out of any understanding reached on the redevelopment of the Clock Tower:
“We are spending money to work out the issues with Heritage and BIA. The cost of preparing a complete application for zoning is too onerous for us to undertake without having (redacted). Given that we have spent over $100,000 on reports and design in the last 30 days if the above is not going to fly we prefer to withdraw right now.”
Bob probably feels a deep sense of grievance. He has been working on his Clock Tower project for over six years.
And it has all turned to dust.
Bob needs a friend to tell him it is time to throw in the towel.