Guard against empty promises

In 2008, Three Springs at Shiloh seemed the perfect development for the intersection of Frank Scott Parkway and Green Mount Road..

The developer painted a lovely picture of restaurants, stores and office space, of apartments, senior villas and a senior living facility. Village trustees liked it so much they unanimously approved a tax increment financing district, a business district to levy an extra 1 percent sales tax, and created a special service taxing area, all so tax dollars could be used to make the vision reality.

But all that glitters is not gold. Now it’s 2015, and PNC Bank is alleging in court that real estate broker Paul McKee and several of his business entities defaulted on loans made in connection with the development. The only development has been a credit union.

A spokesman for McKee said, “Unfortunately, the time line for the project extended far beyond anybody’s original expectations.” Unfortunately.

We don’t know how carefully Shiloh vetted this developer, and whether any warning signs were ignored. But this story is a cautionary tale for all community leaders. Before they commit public resources to help a private project, they need to do everything possible to determine whether the developer can produce on his promises.