News Sims Should’ve Known
posted by June 18 at 14:53 PMon
Surprise, surprise: Businesses won’t pay extra to jump through hoops. King County had been privately negotiating with YarrowBay Development Group to sell a 156-acre parcel in the middle of Maple Valley, called the “donut hole”, which I wrote about over here. But after the county opened up the bidding process, YarrowBay—still the only bidder—reduced its offering and now says it will no longer hand over a pristine piece of environmentally sensitive land the county had hoped to protect. So the county is saying the deal is off.
Reports Jim Brunner:
YarrowBay’s bid of $35 million came in far lower than the $45 million to $51 million the company had offered for the land in January, according to a letter from Kathy Brown, the county’s facilities-management director, to YarrowBay managing partner Brian Ross. Brown called YarrowBay’s latest offer “completely inadequate” in a May 19 letter obtained by The Seattle Times.
“We’re still in negotiations. The current proposal does not meet our needs,” said Brown, whose letter had threatened to call off talks if YarrowBay didn’t raise its bid substantially.
This is the county’s own damn fault. After getting bad press in January for the no-bid contract, King County Executive Ron Sims opened up the bidding process—but not really. The bidding window lasted only 60 days and the request for proposals was 14 pages long. It would be virtually impossible for another developer to submit such a detailed proposal in such a short amount of time. Sims knew—or should have known—that the only bidder who could turn around a proposal was YarrowBay. Sims also knew—or should have known—that YarrowBay would resent the additional time, money, and bad press the ordeal created and would lower its bid. Sims also knew—or should have known—that county budget would face a $68 million shortfall next year, and that this is no time for multi-million dollar blunders.
Note to county officials: If you’re going to enter a no-bid contract, brace for bad press—but keep at it. And if you want to open a request for proposals, make the conditions conducive to competition and higher bids.