BSD board begins search for retail consultant
By David Hohendorf
The Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) Board of Directors on Thursday, August 4, voted to finalize and issue an updated request for proposals (RFP) as it begins a search for a new retail consultant to assist the city in filling vacant commercial space in the downtown area.
The BSD governing board in June had voted to rescind a one-year contract extension offer with Cindy Ciura of CC Consulting, who has worked with the city the last few years in finding retail firms to join the downtown business community.
An extension of the Ciura contract had been in the works for several months as the city conducted a legal review and adjustment of the past contract terms to more clearly indicate both the requirements that a third party consultant had to meet and the lines of authority and reporting that BSD members and the retail consultant had to follow.
At its May meeting, the BSD board approved an extension of the CC Consulting pact but in June Ciura raised a number of objections with board members, among them that she had not been paid for all of her past work and that she objected to some of the terms of the new contract.
Ciura claimed then that past payments from the city did not total $75,000, which is the annual ceiling outlined in the contract.
As a result, assistant city manger Jana Ecker, who is the interim director of the BSD, had a member of the city manager's staff review past payments to CC Consulting and it was determined, she said, that the retail consulting firm had actually been paid more than the contract's annual cap had allowed. Ecker then determined that additional payments for past work would not be issued.
Ciura disputed the city's findings and then informed the BSD board members that she did not agree with some of the terms of the newly written contract extension that the board had approved. Further, Ciura told board members that she did not think that the BSD governing board appreciated the work she had been doing the past few years.
The complaints voiced by Ciura prompted city manager and BSD board member Tom Markus to note that the exchange at the meeting was indicative of the tense relationship that the city has had with CC Consulting in the past. Markus then suggested that the BSD board rescind the latest contract offer it had made to Ciura, which it voted unanimously to do.
At its meeting this week, the BSD board approved that the city begin an immediate search for a new retail consultant, although it did allow that CC Consulting would be allowed to also submit a proposal.