The outrage coming to be known as the Hillmoor Development continues to ferment. Mr. Ford, the supposed buyer of the property, has a crowdfunding site. That’s correct. He’s trying to raise money for the project. One must assume he doesn’t have the money or he wouldn’t be trying to get everyone to support him and send in checks. What’s the value of his “if I build it they will come” project? Nothing unless he gets the property rezoned from recreational use to residential use. If he gets that, then he can build what he wants. This should remind everyone of the theater located on Broad Street where the proposed buyer wanted eight hundred thousand from the city to do improvements.
Likely, the supposed buyer wanted the eight hundred grand to buy the building in the first place. After that, since the building was selling for about eight hundred grand, he could do whatever he felt like. Like sell it for eight hundred grand. Which in effect would have transferred that amount of money from the taxpayers straight into a private person’s pocket. This happens all the time in America. It didn’t happen here because the Geneva Shore Report wrote about what was likely to happen. So it didn’t happen. Was the GSR responsible for preventing that? Nobody will say. Is the Hillmoor mess going to be allowed to proceed? It’s likely the “buyer” won’t have the money until the property (he doesn’t own) is rezoned. Then he can use the new zoning to raise the money from crowdfunding investors on the Internet. This needs to be stopped now, right at the get go.
If you google Lake Hillmoor on your computer, you come up with a wealth of information. You discover that Michael Ford of Tempo Development, the developer on Lake Hillmoor, is also the President of a Crowdfunding company called Real Estate-Gold. You also discover that Mr. Ford intends to use crowdfunding as the funding source for the Hillmoor Development. For those not familiar with Crowdfunding, it is a new (2012), loosely regulated, unorthodox, and basically untested, alternative form of financing where a developer raises money for his project or development from private individuals, typically via the internet. It’s intended for someone who comes up with what they think sounds like a good idea, but can’t get normal financing for their endeavor; thru the traditional banking channels or from any venture capital organization because the project exceeds the risk limits those professional institutions find acceptable. Because the Hillmoor Developer is unwilling to risk using all his own money, he invites small speculative investors on the internet to jump on his band wagon. Apparently, it’s like the Wal-Mart of equity financing or like those ‘get rich quick’ real-estate schemes we used to see on late-night TV. It works for some, but reports are that most small investors, as high as 75%, lose their investment. However, apparently these “investors” understand from the beginning that they are taking a big risk, and probably pouring their money down a sink hole. Reputable fundraising sites make explicit warnings to potential investors about the real risk of the venture not succeeding. Mr. Ford and his Real Estate-Gold crowdfunding company do not have such a disclaimer on their website. What he does claim is that he “does not make completeness of any of the information or materials provided by or through his website.” And he warns Investors they “must be able to afford the loss of their entire investment.”
What’s important to note here is that it seems obvious that no valid lending institution is willing to back the Hillmoor Development investment, including Mr. Ford himself, because of the risks involved.
Risk is the keyword in this whole Lake Hillmoor project. Mr. White, the last prospective Hillmoor developer, did buy the property, but couldn’t get the financing for his development, so the project went into bankruptcy. Fortunately, construction never started on White’s development, so the beautiful, green golf course property was left intact. Now comes Mr. Ford, who can’t seem to afford, or want to take the risk of, buying the property. Rather, he wants the City to take a giant risk by giving him a comprehensive plan and map change, without any assurance he can get sufficient crowdfunding financing to even buy the property. And then he needs more financing to develop the property! So what happens if he doesn’t get enough financing, or if Thom Hartmann is right in his book The Crash of 2016 and Mr. Ford goes bust in the middle of tearing up 40 acres of the Hillmoor Golf Course, trying to construct the Lake for his a-Ford-able Development? Either way, it’s the city that gets stuck with a giant hole gracing its entry way into the City. Let’s face it.
If it was a good idea to have residential development surrounding a small man-made lake, every up-scale development would have one. When Mother Nature creates a lake, that’s one thing. But if you try to fool Mother Nature by digging a hole, filling it with water, and think Mother Nature will do all your maintenance, you’re terribly mistaken. Because these manmade lakes act like giant sponges for pollution, sediment and contaminants in the runoff, that actually feeds the lake.