Learning of the city’s move to go with Prudential Commercial Real Estate of Modesto to list the Downtown Hershey Building caused Oakdale real estate agents to voice their ire towards city officials at a monthly Realtors meeting at the Oakdale Country Club on Thursday, June 12. In return, the city has reversed its decision to contract with Prudential Commercial Real Estate and will now reintroduce the item at Monday’s June 16 city council meeting.
At the May 20 Oakdale City Council Meeting, the council voted 5-0 on City Manager Bryan Whitemyer’s recommendation to go with the Modesto company after city staff met with Craig Lewis and Mike Ash of Prudential Commercial Real Estate in order to receive advice and recommendations on how best to market the Hershey Building. It was agreed that Prudential would later list the property for nationwide exposure.
“This is not the way to do business in this town,” said Kevin Benziger of Century 21 M&M and Associates. “This is not right. We are the people to support.”
“I’ve been in this town for years and done millions of dollars of business and they’re going outside?” derided Corporate Development’s Jerry Marquis. “Why wasn’t I considered?”
Marquis further said he went on to write Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul and other city officials a letter voicing his anger.
“I bluntly told them it was bull-hockey,” said Marquis. “And ‘hockey’ wasn’t the word I used.”
Paul said she and Whitemyer met with the agents at their monthly meeting and was barraged by comments from local realtors in attendance.
“It was a huge mistake not to consider local,” said Sean Conaway of Re/Max. “They made their decision behind closed doors and should have consulted us.”
“The reality is they (local agents) are right,” Paul said when contacted on Thursday afternoon. “I don’t know why we got rushed and decided on Prudential so fast.”
Paul said the possibility of which company to use was discussed in closed session prior to a council meeting and she had brought up using a local firm and a few others on the council shook their heads stating they didn’t know if they had the experience.
“Another councilmember recommended Craig (Lewis) and Mike (Ash),” Paul said, declining to name the councilman.
Paul said after hearing from the realtors at Thursday’s meeting, she discussed the situation with Whitemyer.
“We made a mistake,” Paul said. “We’re going to fix it and open it up.”
Paul said since no contract had been signed with Prudential Commercial the council would be reconsidering the matter at the Monday, June 16 council meeting.
On Thursday, June 12, The Leader contacted Ash about the city’s decision.
Ash stated he was unaware of any cancellation by the city and had received an email from Whitemyer about the sale progress that day.
“As far as I know, the deal is still on and we’re trying to negotiate a deal with potential buyers,” Ash said. “I can tell you we’ve had a couple of folks look at the building and we have an exclusive buyer.”
Ash said Prudential had the ability to pull buyers from all over the state and nation and wondered if any of the local agents had that capability.
“I think they’d (city) be making a big mistake if they did that,” Ash said.
When contacted, Whitemyer confirmed that the city hadn’t solidified anything yet with Prudential and would be moving to rescind their previous agreement at the June 16 council meeting to open the bid to handle the sale to interested parties.
“My thought in doing this, and I heard it loud and clear this morning, is I had been preaching ‘buy local’ repeatedly and I hadn’t given them a chance,” said Whitemyer. “They should have a chance to compete.”
After hearing of the city’s decision, Benziger stated the city did the right thing.
“I’m glad to hear it,” Benziger said. “They heard our voices.”
When the June 16 council agenda was published on Friday, June 13, the matter was set as the last item for the evening.