Jamestown playing ‘an informational shell game’

To The Editor:

Concerning the recent articles that appeared in Chelsea Now (November 2) about Jamestown and the Chelsea Market proposal: I have the distinct sense that Jamestown is only transparent and public about the true nature of their activities when it suits them. Admittedly, part of the reason for this undoubtedly has to do with the complex nature of their various fund structures and foreign closed-end fund investing in general. For example, did Chelsea Now readers know that Chelsea Market had already been “sold” by Jamestown in August of this year? The fund Jamestown 24 sold the entire Chelsea Market asset — along with the two other properties in the Jamestown 24 investment package — to, (surprise!) Jamestown (the institutional end of the Jamestown business, with Jamestown functioning in essence as both buyer and seller in the same transaction).

This is the kind of  “through the looking glass,” bizzaro-world business of foreign closed-end funds. That is a completely separate animal from the run-of-the mill conventional domestic developer model we are familiar with. However, Jamestown is, to an extent at least, able to deftly hide behind this cloak of complexity and create the impression that it operates in the same manner as a standard U.S. real estate developer/manager. In fact, the rules governing its foreign investment business allow for a vast range of options not available to the traditional real estate developer.

Most of the real “nuts and bolts” data about Jamestown’s complex operations is only published in German language media and their websites. Since Jamestown is looking for a zoning change from this community, wouldn’t it behoove them to spend a little (actually a lot of) effort explaining these differences? Are they explaining these differences to the elected officials who will ultimately need to sign off on these zoning changes?

We need less of an informational shell game and a more level playing field of information — especially if Jamestown is able take advantage of rules and conditions unique to their type of business that the average person doesn’t even know about.

We are now learning where to look for the real answers about Jamestown, their plans and how they work — but feel our community should have been more fully and accurately informed about all this from the very beginning, particularly if they are requesting a major zoning change from Chelsea.

Nick Fritsch