By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE - In 2008, Port St. Lucie city councilors wore hard hats and toured the beginnings of the Port St. Lucie Civic Center, set to open that fall.
On Oct. 15, at both the community redevelopment agency meeting and the Port St. Lucie City Council meeting, Gregory Oravec, city manger, announced the city's plans to proceed with a lawsuit again the developers of the city center, where the city's civic center is currently located.
And at both meetings, the city council voted quickly and unanimously to go ahead with the lawsuit.
The city center was projected to be a complex of business offices, restaurants, shops and a park. To date, only the civic center has been built.
According to Azlina Goldstein Siegel, assistant city attorney, the city is suing the developer, De Guardiola Properties, project lender PNC Bank and the PSL City Center, a corporation, for breach of contract and specific performance, among other things.
In 2001, the city created the community redevelopment agency and began working on the developing the city center, located on approximately 40 acres in Port St. Lucie by U.S. 1, in 2005.
The lawsuit states De Guardiola was to build the project in four phases, and have them completed by 2009. As of today, that timeline has not been met.
As for the PSL City Center corporation, the lawsuit states it failed to pay its last two payments, totaling $500,000, that would help fund the construction of the civic center.
In addition, the lawsuit states project lender PNC Bank has failed to pay the real estate taxes for the property in 2010 and 2011.
With interest, the total amount due is approximately $3.7 million.
Add in that the city has provided the infrastructure and built parking garages, the city has spent about $54 million on the civic center.
"We've done everything we can do," said Councilman Jack Kelly.
Both the developer and the PSL City Center corporation are based in Palm Beach County, and could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the civic center has become a hub for entertainment and family events in the city. Last year, it met its goal of 50 percent revenue.