Johnson's Legacy Inflating: Blanche Price Tag Now $17,000,000 from $13,675,000
Posted April 20, 2015, 05:10 pm | News/Analysis
LAKE CITY, FL – City Manager Wendell Johnson was a kingpin in the $30,000,000 North Florida Broadband Authority debacle, which he abandoned at the 12th hour. Now he is the prime negotiator in the Blanche Hotel downtown renovation. Seven months ago, in September 2014, the IDP – Wendell Johnson Blanche renovation was slated to cost $13,675,000. The price tag is now $17,000,000.
City Manager Johnson has proven, like Governor Scott and Columbia County's own LSHA Manager, Jackson P. "Jack" Berry, not to be a great friend of either Florida's Sunshine or Public Record Laws.
This morning, the Observer obtained a copy of the latest version of the IDP – Johnson Letter of Agreement from Columbia County's Asst. County Manager, Ben Scott. The City Manager was asked for a copy shortly after. It has not arrived.
The Latest Letter of Intent: the numbers
The changes are in the green boxes in the pdf.
How ever the daily print paper, the Lake City Reporter, got the letter – it didn’t say – editor/writer Robert Bridges got the numbers wrong in the Sunday edition. The original estimate for the Blanche was not $14 million, but $13,675,000. Developer's equity went from $200,000, not the $500,000, reported by the Reporter, to $1.7 million.
In a couple of hours City Manager Johnson and the folks from IDP will take another bite at the Blanche apple.
Columbia County's Economic Development Director, Glenn Hunter, a supporter of the project, who recently met with all the the members of the County 5, will not be there.