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Penn Square Partners: Agreement fate is in LCCCA's hands

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Today's the Lancaster County Convention Center financing plan deadline, and Penn Square Partners disagrees with Lancaster County Commissioner Scott F. Martin's statement that PSP is the only stakeholder that has not yet approved the plan.

According to Mark Fitzgerald, PSP executive vice president and chief operating officer, PSP delivered its approval of the plan to the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority June 6, with the understanding that it was to be held in escrow until LCCCA executes two secondary agreements.

Those proposed agreements are between PSP and the LCCCA and essentially pick up marketing and furniture, fixtures and equipment funding where Martin's seven-year plan leaves off, Fitzgerald said.

Martin is aware of those agreements and LCCCA could execute them unilaterally, according to Fitzgerald.

Wells Fargo has indicated via Martin that after two years of conversations with the many parties involved, it is finished negotiating if this proposal is not approved. That would put the convention center's future under a cloud at the least but, Fitzgerald said, "If anybody’s risking it, it’s the convention center authority, not Penn Square Partners."

Martin and Kevin Molloy, LCCCA's executive director, have a different perspective, pointing out that PSP is asking for agreements that span the entire remainder of its 100-year lease, which is far longer than the interim funding agreement that's currently at stake. Martin listed several other causes for concern in PSP's proposed secondary agreements as well.

Molloy also said that LCCCA didn't have PSP's agreement in hand for its board meeting on June 6 because it was routed through LCCCA's bond attorney. Asked if the LCCCA board could still execute the agreements PSP is bargaining for before the deadline, Molloy said, "That's a good question."

With some time still remaining before the deadline hits, Martin said he hopes the parties can agree on what's necessary in the short term and then deal with longer-term concerns once everything is on more stable footing.

In any case, Molloy said, "PSP and the LCCCA will be working together for the betterment of each of our organizations for a long time."

The convention center opened in downtown Lancaster in 2009. The integrated $178 million facility includes both the convention center proper, which is a publicly owned entity under the direction of LCCCA, and The Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, which is owned by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Lancaster and leased to Penn Square Partners, the private company that holds the Marriott franchise.

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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