NEWPORT — It was reported last night that Burlington developer Tony Pomerleau, who owns the Newport Waterfront Plaza, has ended a deal with Jay Peak President Bill Stenger to sell him the property. Newport Waterfront Plaza was slated to become the Marina Hotel and Convention Center.
Stenger had agreed to buy the property four years ago, and the two had agreed on a payment plan that consisted of a $1 million deposit, and several other payments of $1 million. Pomerleau told WCAX business reporter Gina Bullard last night in an interview that the only money Stenger ever gave him was a handwritten check for $100,000. Pomerleau said that he tore the check up and gave it back to him.
In an interview Bullard did with Stenger after he met with Pomerleau on Monday, Stenger said that the deal has not fallen through, and that they were going to continue to work together.
But according to Pomerleau, the deal is off. He told Bullard that starting Tuesday, the current tenants can start signing new leases, with some lasting as long as ten years.
This dispute between Pomerleau and Stenger is the latest in a series of setbacks in the planned revitalization initiatives that have been in the works for the Northeast Kingdom.
Almost all of the funding for the projects come from foreign investment through the EB-5 visa program. The program is stalled because of federal scrutiny of the program, making the finances not available as quickly as the developers had planned. In some cases, as with the AnC Bio facility in Newport, some investors have even asked for their money back.
Stenger told Bullard that he will get the money for Pomerleau, but that the money will not come from the EB-5 program.
The whole thing leaves the people of Newport caught in the middle with no real answers. Pomerleau says that the deal is off, Stenger says that they still have a deal. Only time will tell.
For now, according to Pomerleau, the businesses within the Newport Waterfront Plaza will start re-signing their leases. Stenger says that he has some “homework to do.”
Pomerleau bought the Newport Waterfront Plaza in 1972. He told Bullard that although he stands to gain financially by not selling, he feels the property is better suited for a hotel than a shopping center.