Breaking ground in 2016

Former Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen uses an excavator to break ground on the Havasu Riviera project in 2016.

Emails obtained by Today’s News-Herald reveal the Havasu Riviera project is likely two to three years away from fully opening, and local developers blamed the state Attorney General’s office for the delay.

In conversations dating back to January, developers for the project feared that the Attorney General’s office wouldn’t allow a contract to be signed as planned.

“AG office attorneys have refused to sign the assignment of lease because they have ‘never done this before,’” Wrote Havasu Riviera developer in a list of concerns shared with the city. “... AG office will not offer concrete suggestions. Without the assignment, the bank will not fund the loan and the project will fail,” it said. As a result, the developer feared the city’s Riviera Road, which was already substantially completed by that time, would become a “road to nowhere.”

Havasu Riviera is a collaboration between Lake Havasu City, Arizona State Parks and Trails and Komick Development. The project will comprise 550 acres, and is estimated to be completed over the next decade. It will include a six-lane boat launch ramp, a 250-acre master planned community, a 300-room hotel, a 200-slip marina, a waterfront restaurant and day-use areas.

A press release sent out last week by Arizona State Parks and Trails announced the project was officially moving forward again after months of delays. The press release went through several revisions in back-and-forth emails between Desert Land Group, Mayor Cal Sheehy, State Parks and the Governor’s office.

In a draft version of the press release, Mychal Gorden of Desert Land Group had included a line that read, “The project is anticipated to complete Phase 1 and open to the public by the summer of 2020 with 2 additional phases over the following 18 months.”

However, Darla Cook, State Parks deputy director, expressed her concern about tagging a set completion date on the project. “We have not met on the updated timeline of development,” she wrote in an email. “I’d like to be optimistic, but concerned about announcing the opening the summer of 2020 which is less than 12 months from now.”

Gorden had also included in a draft version of the release a line that said, “There will be an update for the construction timeline within the next 60 days as we are working to refresh development and construction plans with the concessionaire. Once that is completed, we will be prepared to discuss the buildout and updated timeline of the project. Although you’re not seeing dirt moving on the site, the project is moving forward.”

State blamed for delay

Last week’s project update was months in the making. On Jan. 15, Jim Komick and his attorney, Dean Formanek, had a phone call with Nicole Colyer, deputy general counsel for Gov. Doug Ducey’s office, to discuss the concerns surrounding the project. A bulleted list of talking points was shared with city officials via email.

The list of talking points said, among other concerns, that “two separate banks provided letters detailing their requirements for leasehold financing that were provided as part of the Solicitation Response and communications. The communications were very clear about the need for financing and how that would be accomplished.”

The “developer applied for a loan from Horizon Community Bank for construction costs,” and “as expected, HCB requires an ‘assignment of lease’ as collateral for loan.” This ensures that if the developer was unable to operate the park, the bank can find a “qualified operator to help ensure loan repayment and operate park,” according to the memo.

“AZ State Parks has consented to the assignment of lease,” the document says, and Havasu has relied on that consent, investing roughly “$6.6 million in infrastructure costs in good faith.”

The consent agreement has been signed, according to the State Parks announcement last week. But the question of who signed the assignment of lease remains unanswered.

In an email sent to Sheehy and City Manager Jess Knudson on June 1, Komick wrote that Colyer was “again… tasked with getting our Loan consent document signed by Procurement according to Bob [Broscheid] at State Parks.” In the same email, he mentions their “on-going problem of the State not honoring our contract by signing the loan consent documents that were detailed out during the bid/negotiation process with State Procurement in Spring 2016.”

State parks tumult

In addition to the contract issues that have plagued the project, last year’s change in leadership at State Parks has played a large role in the Riviera project’s starts and stops. All State Parks projects were halted in 2018 after former Director Sue Black was fired by Ducey.

Ryan Anderson, director of communications for the Arizona Attorney General’s office, said that the investigation of Black is ongoing. The investigation is looking into the mistreatment of native archaeological sites among other allegations, and that includes areas in Lake Havasu City such as Lake Havasu State Park and the Riviera site. The Havasu Riviera project rests along the Colorado River, a common place for these native historical sites and artifacts to be found.

A request by the News-Herald to the State Procurement Office about who ultimately signed the assignment of the lease was referred to the State Parks Department, which has declined to provide a number of public records requested by the News-Herald over the past two months.

No answers to questions concerning the consent agreement have been answered by State Parks.

Calls to Mychal Gorden of Desert Land Group were not immediately returned, and Havasu Riviera developer Jim Komick of Komick Enterprises could not be reached after multiple attempts to contact.

1
5
1
1
9

(27) comments

HwyRovr

I have to admit to being more than slightly stunned from the lack of support for our firefighters here. Two of the losers, Commander DOT and “COC” (still the most accurate acronym ever seen here), are always quick to attack anyone with whom they disagree and yet they have no comments about the disparaging remarks concerning our firefighters, but then again they both denigrate veterans so we should not be surprised. To complain because firefighters are available 24/7 to save a business or home is truly sad.

VA172

"always quick to attack anyone with whom they disagree". Who are you to complain about people attacking you. Fact is that is your favorite pastime here. Squarkzilla.


Proudindependent

They are paid to train, just like they are paid to sleep, go to dinner etc. I've seen a fire engine pull up in front of Penney's no lights they just went in to shop, seem them out to dinner, engine parked in front of the restaurant for hours. No other employee gets to eat and sleep on the job, yet they have the best retirement of any of the employees and are still lobbying for higher pay.

HwyRovr

"seen"

VA172

Stupid statement. I do know of another employer that has their employees on duty 24-7. They eat sleep and relax during their days. The employer is the United States and the employees are the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. The pay is low and the retirement is also low for what they do.

Expressionistix

By the time they actually get going on this to start building homes, we'll be in a massive recession and the housing market will have collapsed. It'll be just another massive dirt grid like you see in the failed Golden Valley development or the HW 93 development.

Proudindependent

Only in Havasu sounds like another disgruntled fireman, not sure why they are disgruntled they have the best retirement of any city employment, get paid to sleep and go to dinner, geez yet they still complain.

julieroach

I'm assuming that you have never had to call 9-1-1 asking for help in an emergency. If you do need to call for help, and hopefully you don't need to, you will be grateful that those public safety "complainers" respond to your call at any hour of the day or night, and possibly save your life. Let's hope that when and if you call for help, you get the very best response. Maybe you should find something else to complain about.

HwyRovr

[thumbup][thumbup]

VA172

Proud. Some people just have to make a stupid ignorant comment. These firemen spend a great deal of their time in training, unlike you.

HwyRovr

"...get paid to sleep and go to dinner...", you mean like members of our military?

simon1dog

Let me put some "facts" into this polite discussion.



1. Just as Mexico IS paying for a border wall through 'reconstructed trade agreements', the State of Arizona IS going to ultimately pay for this Havasu Riviera project once lawyers get through with things. I bet there are attorneys chomping at the bit to get involved.



2. The archaeological excuse from the state is a lame one. If there were any 'near the 'river' as claimed they'd now be under the lake.



3. I heard from reliable sources that land where the Bluewater Casino sits was an archaeological area. No studies were done there before concrete was poured.



4. Perhaps adding Casino after the name Riviera would expedite this government created fiasco.



5. All in all the taxpayer will be paying for the state's screwup here. You can bet money on it!



3.

janaplum

Is no one concerned with the people that sit on the city planning commission! I am! It's clearly overweight with developers! Including desert land group President! What do you expect,taxpayer interest to be their goal! NOT!

Roco

It has always been that way since I moved here in 2002. That's why we got stuck with the sewer fiasco. Almost everyone had some connection to real estate and/or developers. It will probably remain that way.

only in havasu

6 million dollars yet we have major infrastructure needs throughout City owned buildings needing updates, City employees who are woefully underpaid, and a new City Manager who brings new meaning to words status quo. Other than self interest, what has the current City administration done to improve the quality of living in this City? The City Manager surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear, each making high six figure salaries while the boots on the ground employees struggle to make ends meat forced to work with outdated, cheap equipment. Has anyone really ever looked at some of the vehicles and equipment being used by parks and rec, and the street department? Besides that,- for years, I’ve met people who say Havasu is an extremely patriotic community. That there are countless retired Military, Police, and Fire employees from throughout the Country who live here. I’ve heard people talk about how public safety is a huge priority to them, and that keeping Lake Havasu a decent place to live is of upmost importance. Yet, we have a Fire Department that’s been begging for raises with zero action by the City to respond; and it appears Public Safety has been shafted for new equipment for the past ten years. We voted to give the City the necessary funding to keep a handle on crime and other important things, yet the City Manager might as well post a sign on his door that reads: effective hypothetical road block- you’d go away if you knew what was good for you. I guess City Officials who drink and party together- support each other at all costs. Have you ever tried getting in to set an appointment to see any of these people? You’d have an easier time getting an appointment with President Trump. Absolutely unbelievable.

Comment deleted.
Roco

But all the people involved are republicians? The ex major, ex city manager, the city council were all republicans. What is "typical liberal" about this?

Proudindependent

So the question is why did the previous city manage and mayor invest over $6 million of tax payer money when this agreement wasn't in place? The developer did not have the funding to complete the improvements? Why oh why, just another waste of city funds like the business park the previous mayor invested over $6 million into. The developer wants to blame the state but they have a clear history of struggling with their projects, just ask anyone involved in the foothills projects, over a year behind required improvements, temporary improvements allowed to let the builders mover forward. Hopefully the new administration will just say no! No more developer bailouts, no more paying for improvements that are the responsibility of the developers. The developers have owned this property for almost 20 years, they failed to obtain financing and to secure the agreements they needed.

Roco

I think this all goes back to the developer of the housing part not having direct access to his land landlocked by BLM land. He asked the past administration to help secure something to allow him to develop it. This was the beginning of this sham. There has been talk of the city helping this guy out for years.

shutthefrontdoor

Anyone following the reporting on this project and its future really believe the Keystone Cops involved here from the past city administration, the "comic" developer, and the state reps? I hate to be a told ya so, but the rhetoric continues, "Full steam ahead . . . " or is it "One step forward two steps back" alas, progress that is then eradicated by the continuing amount of administrative hurdles, setbacks, problems, difficulties, or . . ineptness! Want to get on top of things . . . . pound on drums, roll some bones, bleed a chicken or offer up other sacrifices to loa.

Mr Lemons

I found this of interest in the article: "The investigation is looking into the mistreatment of native archaeological sites among other allegations, and that includes areas in Lake Havasu City such as Lake Havasu State Park and the Riviera site. The Havasu Riviera project rests along the Colorado River, a common place for these native historical sites and artifacts to be found."







Of course, along both sides of the Colorado River almost every proposed development is a potential archaeological site because native artifacts are scattered everywhere. What are these important artifacts? Usually, pieces of broken pottery and charcoal from fires from long ago. In other words, trash left behind hundreds of years ago. The archaeologists and their compadres, native tribes, tend to find that all new development a potential "sacred site" to be halted until tribal lawyers or non-profit groups can get involved. Tribes (and environmentalists) seem to consider all development an encroachment upon a sacred site or possible endangered animal.







Native tribes, of course, have no problem with sacred sites or endangered animals if they are interested in developing a new casino or selling mining leases on tribal lands. Were any artifacts found across the river while bulldozing the land for the new casino/hotel (or even the existing casino)? Even the path that leads to the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial, dedicated to the 19 firefighters who died on June 30, 2013, in the Yarnell Hill Fire, is disputed by natives and archeologists, because the path to the memorial possibly might cross "sacred land."


dougleonard6

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

HavasuGuy

Excellent perspective Mr Lemons, I have to agree. Treating every possible area as if there is a significant historical treasure is bad business. Only at significant archaeological sites cases should there be a some oversight. And your third paragraph hits the nail right on the head.

Comment deleted.
Mr Lemons

Thanks. lol

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.