Town Finalizes Restaurant Payment Plan

Stake Out –
Standing at the corner stake where the Doko Restaurant will soon be built are Town Councilman Paul Moscati; Ed Parler, the Town’s economic development consultant; Town Councilmen Ed Garrison and Roger Hovis; Mayor J. Michael Ross; Jonathan Bazinet, owner of Sam Kendall’s restaurant in Camden; State Sen. Joe McEachern, president of the Blythewood Facilities Corporation and Town Administrator John Perry.

The original park bond allowed for up to 5 percent of the park property to be separated out for other uses. The red line indicates a spatial area of 1.25 acres that the Town separated by ordinance from the original park property. The green line indicates the .4 acres that have been mortgaged by the Town for the construction of a restaurant. The portion of the red-lined area remaining (after the green-lined portion was taken out for the restaurant) can be reconfigured and used in other areas of the park for business activity and economic development.

BLYTHEWOOD – Town Council passed final reading last week on an ordinance that authorizes an installment purchase plan for a restaurant the Town government plans to build adjacent to the Town Hall on a quarter acre of land that has been separated (by ordinance) from the park property.

Financing of the $1.4 million project will come from two primary sources — a $900,000, one-year, 2 percent interest loan from Santee Cooper and another $500,000 from Fairfield Electric Cooperative, one of Santee Cooper’s family of companies.

The loans will be contracted between the utility companies and the Blythewood Facilities Corporation (BFC) whose five members, appointed by Town Administrator John Perry, include Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and State Sen. Joe McEachern, President of the BFC. The BFC will be responsible for managing payments for the construction of the restaurant facility, which will be leased out to restaurateur Jonathan Bezinet, owner of Sam Kendall’s restaurant in Camden. The Town will pay off the construction loans, through the BFC, with revenue derived from leasing out the restaurant and with an undetermined portion of the Town’s Hospitality and Accommodations Tax revenues.

The BFC will issue Installment Purchase Revenue Bonds for the restaurant project under the terms of the loan agreement between the BFC and Santee Cooper. The BFC was established in 2010 to manage payments for the construction of the park from the original $5+ million park bonds. The Town is paying back that money to the BFC with 75 percent of the payments coming from the Town’s Hospitality and Accommodations Tax revenues and 25 percent from other sources, including the General Fund.

The ordinance that was finalized last week specifies requirements for a security agreement in favor of Santee Cooper. The Town is required to pledge:

–Revenues generated from leasing the restaurant;

–A portion of the Town’s Hospitality and Accommodations Tax revenues;

–A first priority mortgage on the property where the restaurant will be built; and

–Other revenues available to the town

In its application for the loans, the Town designated the entire park as a 24-acre business park – Doko Meadow Municipal Business Park. The Town said it will use the restaurant exclusively for economic development purposes.

A press release from Santee Cooper said the restaurant would “serve as an incubator for 325 acres of commercial property surrounding the park, helping to draw new commercial industry and jobs to the area.”

The restaurant facility is being constructed by Northlake Construction, Inc. and should be finished by the end of the year, according to Perry. Monroe was awarded the bid for the park construction, but Perry said Monroe sub-contracted the project to Northlake who specializes in restaurant construction.