CHEYENNE – The owner of the Hynds building in downtown Cheyenne is frustrated that his property was included in an Urban Renewal Authority plan for derelict buildings without him being told first, he said. he said in an email Thursday to the Cheyenne mayor and city council.
David Hatch, a local developer and owner of the Hynds, said he learned from a recent phone call between his realtor and Mayor Patrick Collins that the city has included him in this URA plan. Hatch argues that, in fact, the city wants him to sell to the Downtown Development Authority at a ‘deeply reduced’ offer price or face eminent domain ‘by conviction,’ he said. in an interview on Friday.
Collins Friday disputed that. The mayor said the purpose of the April 28 phone call was to inform Hatch and his realtor, Jim Weaver, that the city’s URA had expanded a plan to include the Hynds Building, located at the corner northwest of Capitol Avenue and West Lincolnway.
This plan must be approved by the city’s planning commission and the city council. It would likely be finalized by the board in mid-June.
Collins told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that the city is not currently able to invoke eminent domain. However, the URA has approved moving forward with a plan that includes the Hynds building and would allow him “to use the tools of the (URA) to help redevelop and bring these areas to life,” Collins said. .
One of the powers the city is seeking through the URA, Collins said, is the power to acquire property. One way he could ultimately acquire property is through eminent domain, the mayor said.
Hatch said in his email, forwarded to the WTE on Friday, that “the use of the (URA) designation to promote the city’s agenda by buying me the Hynds is inappropriate, misleading and a clear departure from ( the) publicly promoted purpose of a URA.”
Collins said the city just wants to see the Hynds revitalized — whether that means a sale by Hatch to another developer, the DDA or a possible acquisition by the city.
The mayor said the city continues to attract potential buyers to Hatch, calling the city “the biggest cheerleader.” He said he was meeting with another developer interested in buying the Hynds on Friday afternoon.
Hatch has owned the Hynds since May 2016, when he purchased it from an investment company in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The property has been largely empty for four decades, the mayor said.
Hatch said in an interview that the first floor of the building is fully occupied by 10 artists. It’s “kind of like an artists’ co-op,” he said, which has been around for years.
The developer said the second floor and basement are occasionally rented out to photography studios.
Hatch disputes that his building was destroyed and claims that the city incorrectly grouped the Hynds building and the “hole”. The Hole, located next to the building at 206 W. Lincolnway, is the product of a fire that destroyed Mary’s Bake Shoppe in 2004.
In his email, Hatch says the Hynds and the Hole “are two very separate properties, and bringing them together is a power grab by the city.”
Collins replied that the two are “inextricably linked”, adding that he doesn’t think the Hynds can be developed without at least part of the Hole.
“To me, it’s like we had this beautiful lady smiling downtown, and her two front teeth came out,” he said. “That’s how I see the Hynds and the Hole. I think at some point we just have to say, ‘Something has to be different. “”
Hatch said the burn report for what the city calls the “Hynds/Hole Blight” is “wacky,” and that the burn instances are nearly all attributable to the Hole.
As for the Hynds building, “there are, at best, small code violations that can be found on virtually every downtown building,” he wrote.
Hatch wrote that on March 16 he received a $2.5 million offer for the Hynds from the DDA. It reportedly included $1.5 million in cash and a $1 million bill that he would carry.
“This offer was acceptable except I responded to say I needed different terms on the note,” Hatch wrote to the mayor and council. “Since then I have heard nothing except a call from the mayor to my real estate agent, Jim Weaver, on Thursday, April 28, to say that if I did not agree to the city’s terms, the city would take my private property. via eminent domain.. The mayor went on to tell Jim that he didn’t see the city offering more than $1.5 million in total, and it might even be less.
Collins confirmed on Friday that the call had taken place, but he disputed the amount of the offer. Collins explained that the DDA was offering Hatch $1.3 million in cash, and if the DDA sold the building within a year of the closing date, Hatch would get an additional $1 million. For each year the building did not sell, the amount decreased by $200,000. After five years, Hatch would get nothing more than the original $1.3 million.
During an interview on Friday, Hatch said the mayor’s description of the offer was correct.
Hatch made a counteroffer, he said, because he thought the amount should go up every year, not go down. He said he wanted a total of $2.6 million: $1.3 million in cash and a deferred payment of $1.3 million, with no interest in the first year, or with annual interest of 7 .5% over seven years.
Hatch said that after his counteroffer, the next contact he had with the city about the Hynds was Collins’ call to Weaver last week.
The city has continued to try to bring interested buyers to Hatch, Collins said, adding that he still hopes they can work out a deal.
The Hynds is currently listed by Weaver at $2.7 million, Hatch said.
Hatch, in his email, called the city’s potential use of eminent domain an “illegal government takeover of private property.”
“Every other business person in town should be really nervous about this because if they can do it to me, they can do it to anybody,” Hatch said.
Collins said it wouldn’t be illegal because the URA may be empowered to do so by state law.
“If the URA and the city decided to exercise those powers, we would. And it’s not like we can take the building down – we have to have it appraised, and we have to pay what (the building is worth) , “said Collins.
If Hatch doesn’t sell and the URA ultimately claims eminent domain, Hatch’s email makes it clear that he has no intention of letting go of the building easily.
“If the city wanted to, in fact, continue down the path of taking my property, I’m prepared for this long fight in court, attorneys’ fees, and a huge amount of bad publicity in the media about how The government has gone too far and made up facts about how ‘rusty’ the Hynds are,” he wrote.
In his email, Hatch suggested continuing negotiations “with the goal of achieving a fair and equitable sale of the building to the city or a city-selected developer and then working together to revitalize the Hynds.”