WASAGA BEACH STOCKWELL REPORT
Before we get into this week`s subject matter, let me answer a few inquiries as to the meaning of the word “wag”.
“Wag” is a word that I have used in my writings for the last thirty or forty years. Should you go to the Collins Canadian Dictionary, it describes the word as “humorous, witty, person”. The Miriam Webster Online Dictionary refers to it as “a person full of jokes and humour.”
Nothing demeaning, and certainly nothing misogynistic, as suggested by one Triple N groupie, even though she spelled it wrong……Lighten up kiddies.
Now, let us have a look at a piece of Wasaga Beach history……. The Dardenella Night Club and Restaurant. The Dard, as it is affectionately referred to, is a two storey building, located at Beach Drive and First Street. It was constructed in the 1920`s and during the “Big Band Era” of the 1930`s and 40`s it was home to most of the great dance bands of the day that barnstormed through Southern Ontario.
The Dard was part of a four acre property acquisition along Beach One that the municipality purchased early in 2015, containing 28 commercial units and 3 restaurant-bars. The lands represent the main tourist area of the Town.
As the Purchase and Sale agreement didn`t close until May 15th, the municipality was faced with a very short period of time to issue a Request For Proposals (“RFPs”) and negotiate leases in order to meet the start of the 2015 summer tourist season.
Given the limited length of the proposed leases, (one year) and the tight schedule to prepare the establishment for a July first opening, there was little interest shown from private operators to respond to the RFP`s. As a result, two of the contracts were awarded to Phoenix Hospitality Inc., a company headed up by Enzo Grossi, a previous operator of the facilities, who could meet the tight deadlines.
The third contract covered the Dard, and was the subject of a second RFP. Upon receiving the proposals, it became apparent that Phoenix was the only bidder capable of meeting the tight opening schedule, and, although its bid was less than expected, the Chief Administrative Officer was directed to enter contract negotiations with Mr. Grossi in an attempt to increase the proposed rent.
Agreement on a one year lease was reached with Mr. Grossi for the 2015 season running from June 22, 2015 to September 30, 2015, for a rental fee of $27,750, plus 3 months taxes.
The fact that one operator ran all three licenced establishments didn`t seem to impact the three bars. However, as the summer came to an end, in late August, the hours of operation for both the Dard and the Copa became more irregular. It was at that point that the lack of competition was resulting in a lesser level of customer service to the general public.
In February of 2016, Committee of the Whole passed a resolution directing staff that in the interest of ensuring competition between licensed establishments Council reserved the right not to award the RFP for the Dardanella to the operator whose proposal scores the highest if that operator is already leasing a licensed establishment from the Town. That motion passed on a vote of 4 to 3 with the Deputy Mayor and Councillors Anderson and Bray opposed.
In March 2016, Council awarded the licensed establishment known as “Bananas” to Enzo Grossi on a vote of 5 to 2 with the Deputy Mayor and Councillor Bray opposed.
Also in March 2016, Council awarded the licensed establishment known as “The Copa” to RLS Wasaga Group Inc. on a vote of 4 to 3 with the Deputy Mayor and Councillors Anderson and Bray opposed.
The following month, April 2016, Council defeated the awarding of the licensed establishment known as “The Dard” to Enzo Grossi on a vote of 4 to 3 with the Deputy Mayor and Councillors Bray and Smith voting with the minority.
On May 17, 2016, the Committee of the Whole directed staff to issue yet another RFP for the operation of the Dardanella Licensed Establishment, with some minor changes. The report stated, “There is a tremendous history within the Dardanella and it is a Town landmark. If a proponent puts forth ideas to repair the Dardanella and restore it to full operation, these ideas should be considered. The revised RFP provides that opportunity.”
At the recent Council meeting of June 9, 2016, staff presented a report, giving the details of three RFP submissions from Brian Crombie and Billy Gordon Developments, Elusiv Entertainment (Vince Piacente), and Phoenix Hospitality Inc. (Enzo Grossi).
The report was presented by George Vadeboncoeur, Chief Administrative Officer of Wasaga Beach, who explained the process used to “score” the three submissions, assessing lease rates and leasehold improvements over the five year contract.
In assessing the Crombie/Gordon submission the report stated that it was “professionally presented, but was not as strong in certain areas and was missing an element. There was no certainty to the Town with their lease rate proposal and the Town would have to pay the group back for any leasehold improvements made to the building. This group had the strongest Value Added component and it was very creative.”
Comparing the remaining two submissions, the Chief Administrative Officer recommended that, “it would be in the best interest of the Town to grant the lease to Elusiv Entertainment, subject to negotiating a satisfactory lease.” The report went on to say that, “In coming to the recommendation the writer focused on the lease rate proposed by Elusiv and Phoenix Hospitality as other factors were fairly close. Over six years Elusiv is proposing to pay the Town $115,000 more than Phoenix Hospitality.”
In regards to Leasehold Improvements, Phoenix committed themselves to spend $480,000 over a five and a half year period. Elusiv committed themselves to spend $500,000 by December 31st. 2017.
So, Council was presented with a motion awarding, “the lease of the Dardanella beachfront licensed establishment to Elusiv Entertainment, subject to negotiations of acceptable lease terms.”
The motion was lost on a tie vote, as follows;
In favour…..Mayor Smith and Councillors Ego and Stockwell…..Opposed….Deputy Mayor Bifolchi and Councillors Bray and Smith.
So, who knows what the next step is for the Dard. There isn`t enough time to lease the property for the 2016 summer season. Not only will it remain “dark” for the 2016 summer season, it means that the Town has missed out on $750,000, made up of $250,000 rent, over the five year lease, and $500,000 in Capital upgrades.
The Wasaga Sun ran an online story reporting the actions of Council, and it was posted on The Wasaga Beach News and Commentary site with a comment from the chap that posted it, “this is a bit disturbing I thought one would go through.”
Disturbing…….I think that most Wasaga Beach ratepayers will find it OUTRAGEOUS.