Wednesday, May 5, 2010

APP: Laurelwood owner seeking $42.5 million

Laurelwood Homes, LLC, can ask all it wants for the Navy to buy out the 30-year civilian-use phase of its housing contract at Weapons Station Earle, but the request for $42.5 million reported on by the Asbury Park Press is ludicrious. In short, the Department of Navy proved a decent business partner in signing away a vital contract provision regarding contract revocation in 2002, all for the sake of Laurelwood's owner, who practically begged to refinance the Laurelwood mortgage at a much lower interest rate.

Now, we have this private Washington-based contractor that owns the 1980s-era Laurelwood Homes attempting to fleece the U.S. taxpayer for a buyout of homes worth far less than Laurelwood's demand, and at the same time that the owner knows full well the Navy could have continued with its charade to open the homes to civilians and potentially sent Laurelwood to insolvency (remember, the owner would have had to construct a nearly 2-mile road, upgrade infrastructure, renovate the 300 homes and procure insurance...on an active Naval weapons storage facility), the owner comes forth with this nonsense.

Clearly, Laurelwood Homes, LLC is going to try to get the most out of its sinking ship as possible, but the dollar value appears insultingly high, and let us not forget that this contractor has already made $75 million on this housing deal (closer to $4 million annually in recent years, contrary to the constantly reported number of "a little less than $3.5 million.")  On the other hand, and assuming something prompted the letter and subsequent APP report, we can only imagine that the Navy's initial offer was insultingly low.

Come on, guys, get to the negotiating table and hammer out a fair deal already. Our community has been through more than enough with this Laurelwood headache. Arrive at a number, demolish the homes, and let's all move on with our lives already.

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