Snags lead to deadline for winery planNegotiators now face a 30-day deadline to reach an agreement on John Falconer’s bid to acquire Red Wing Port Authority land before the deal falls apart.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Negotiators now face a 30-day deadline to reach an agreement on John Falconer’s bid to acquire Red Wing Port Authority land before the deal falls apart.
“This went way too long,” Port Commissioner Stephen Castner said. “It’s one problem after another.”
Falconer agreed a deal must be reached fast. He wishes to lease the land from the Port this spring and to plant grapes on it.
“These issues need to be done by March 31,” he said.
The two sides had agreed in principle to work out a deal at the Port’s Jan. 15 meeting. Friday’s meeting, however, was the second in a row where parties struggled to agree on the sale’s specifics.
Since the summer of 2007, the sides have been laboring over a potential deal, in which the Port would sell Falconer roughly 28 acres at Highways 61 and 19 for $1 million. Falconer wishes to expand his winery on the site.
Negotiations between the two sides were tripped up by a new stumbling block.
City Attorney Jay Squires said Falconer’s lender wants the Port’s development agreement to come second to their mortgage.
If that were to happen, Port members said they fear it could open up a possibility of an unwanted development.
If Falconer defaulted after closing the deal with the Port — but before building the winery — the lender could seize the property and develop anything allowed by city zoning, Squires said.
“If a winery is there forever that’s fine. But I don’t ever want to see a big commercial (development) on that corner,” Castner said.
Falconer argued he has every intention of making his expansion a success.
“We wouldn’t be putting this much money into the project ... unless we were serious about completing it,” Falconer said.
He also said the agreements were “convoluted,” and wasn’t sure it was clear what they really meant. Some Port members agreed.
“It is very complicated,” Commissioner Nona Nelson said.
Falconer asked if the Port’s real estate committee could meet again to try to hammer out the rough spots and then call a special meeting to settle the matter. The Port agreed, but the sides will have short time to crank out a better agreement.
The Port voted 5-1 in favor of the 30-day deadline. Port member Carol Duff voted against the motion and Port member Tom Brown was absent.
Friday’s meeting was rescheduled from Monday because Brown, Castner and Duff would have been absent.