By Jon A. Brake
What did they know, and when did they know it?
The Manhattan City Commission approved the establishing of two Redevelopment
Districts last week. The vote
just got the ball rolling for a $40-50 million redevelopment project in two areas on the East Side of the City.
If the City, Riley County Commission, Pottawatomie County Commission
and the Manhattan School Board all
buy off on the project a new Target store and several other national outlets would be coming to Manhattan. That
is unless the a County or the School District vote to stop the project, as the Riley County Commission did last
Now the question can be asked: Would the City Commission approve the
project if they had been given new
information by the staff?
Topeka Attorney Vic Miller, representing twenty east side businesses
gave a copy of a 1998 bankruptcy case to
the City Administration during a break and before the Commissioners were to vote.
The Bankruptcy was taken by Demetrios P. Dellaportas in a 1998 case
in Dallas, Texas. He has been
representing Plaza Manhattan, LLC a Chicago developer.
The President of Plaza Manhattan, LLC is Peter Dellaportas, son of Demetrios.
Questions had been asked about
Bankruptcies last summer.
Peter Dellaportas sent a May 31, 2000 letter to City Manager Ron Fehr
answering many questions about the
Here is how Peter Dellaportas answers the bankruptcy question: "We have
not had any history of bankruptcy
and we have not been sued on development activities during the last five years."
But, he then told about a "market collapse" in 1990 that put his father
"in financial distress." And, he added:
"My father eventually cleared up all of his financial troubles but went through the whole range of events typically
associated with such problems: foreclosure lawsuits and judgments, bankruptcies, deeds in lieu, etc."
That was in 1991. A list of Commercial Bankruptcies in the Arizona Business
Gazette names: "J.D. Real
Property Acquisition Corp.
5010 E. Shea Blvd., Suit B-222, Scottsdale
91-12731; 10/30/91; incomplete filing"
Peter Dellaportas only informed the City Manager about the 1991 Bankruptcy
and the 1998 bankruptcy fits
inside the five-year time frame.
Attorney Miller was trying to alert the City Commission that more time
should be taken before voting on the
Redevelopment Districts. Miller also tried to alert the Pottawatomie County Commission earlier at their meeting.
Should the City staff have given the information to the City Commission before the vote? Yes.
Should the City Commission vote on the project after receiving such information?
That is their decision.