The citizens of Stratford can soon let loose a collective sigh of relief as their infamous protagonist, Larry Ryan, relinquishes possession of the Cooper Site after of over 10 years of in-action and legal bickering with the city. As mentioned earlier, the city had been engaged in an expropriation process to gain the Cooper Site in downtown Stratford for the development of a new campus for the University of Waterloo. After an appraisal, the city offered Ryan $500,000 (it was appraised at $4.5 million if it was environmentally clean). Ryan, of course, balked and things continued in court.
However, it isn't hard to imagine that Ryan's mortgagee, Republic Mortgage Investment, was getting nervous that they wouldn't see the $3.9 million they were owed on the property and started putting pressure on Ryan to settle. After all, Ryan had been offered even more money over the years for the property from large retailers looking to locate in the city's downtown core. He never sold, continued to hold onto his fantasy of developing the site, and walked away from offers that would have left him with much more money in his pocket.
As part of this deal, Ryan will end up getting $566,935. It's a bitter pill to swallow for Stratford's taxpayers; however, given that Ryan gained possession of the property for less than a quarter of a million dollars over a decade ago, you can bet most of his windfall will be eaten up by capital gains taxes, and head right back to the government's coffers (just not Stratford's unfortunately).
And, remember, while the city could have held out through the expropriation process to pay less, this way they avoid court costs and potentially paying an amount that could have been close to what was agreed upon anyway. More importantly, now the University of Waterloo plans for the downtown core can move ahead without Ryan's dark cloud hanging over the project. The results of the city's investment will be enormous not only for downtown, but the entire community, so better to move on than to continue the court battle.
Will this be the end of Larry? One can hope, but I'm sure he and defeated former Councillor Lloyd Lichti could put on one last show and run for office this fall. Stay tuned ...