Bruce Frank has turned a business dispute about saving a piece of Cape May history into a personal vendetta. At least, that's the impression I get from today's article in the Cape May County Herald.
Why do I think this businessman has made this a personal crusade? Let's review relevant portions of the article.
CAPE MAY - The Beach Theatre will never again operate as a movie theater, according to Bruce Frank, president of Frank Investment, building owners.
Here, Frank makes it clear that no matter how much money the Beach Theatre Foundation offers, he will not sell the theatre. In his mind, it will never be a theatre again.
The story goes on:
A lower court decision handed down in July 2011 by Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong determined the Beach Theatre Foundation lacked technical legal "standing" to intervene in what the group claimed was an illegal and collusive settlement of litigation between the City of Cape May and Frank Investments, Inc.The foundation charges the city revived an expired demolition permit and circumvented administrative hearings before the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment by a vote of City Council."We believe the judge made a factual ruling that was well founded," said Frank. He said Armstrong's opinion was "scathing" of what the foundation had done and "bordered on violating our civil rights and rights as a property owner."
Having read Judge Armstrong's decision, I would like to know where Mr. Frank thinks Judge Armstrong said that the Foundation had violated his civil rights as a property owner. I invite Mr. Frank to submit the quotes from the decision which say anything along that line.
Frank said he believed donors to the foundation were being misled that the building may once again be used as a movie theater. "Even if we were denied, if they were to prevail, I am not obligated to sell the property," he said. "So, it's never going to be a movie theater again."
Again, Mr. Frank demonstrates that this is personal to him. If it was simply a matter of good business, then he'd be willing to sell if the price was right. But it's not a matter of business. He has personalized it.
Frank said donations to the foundation would not save the movie theater. "Even if they prevail, it just leaves a block building there," he said. "It doesn't mean that that block building can't be used for anything else that's commercial.""It could be a restaurant, it could be a flea market, it could be vacant, it could be nothing," he continued.
Here, Mr. Frank threatens to turn a prime piece of Cape May history into a flea market or nothing at all. Threats are not good business.
Frank said he believed the foundation was trying to convince donors that it could buy the property "on the cheap,"and open a movie theater.
What Mr. Frank believes about the Foundation is irrelevant. The Foundation has a website and regularly sends out correspondence and press releases about its goals. It is clear what the Foundation wishes to do, and several of the people involved with the Foundation have a long history of working to make Cape May the special city it has become.
On the other hand, it is quite unclear what Frank wishes to do. Is he going to put a flea market there? A boutique hotel? Condos? Nothing? Who knows? Over the years, Mr. Frank has proposed all of these alternatives. Meanwhile, he continues to own what is the biggest blight in Cape May. He must be very proud of what his stewardship has wrought. He drove a successful business in the heart of the City into the ground. Quite a businessman.
The article goes on:
"We're just not planning on selling it," said Frank. "We'll continue to just utilize it as it is, it's an income generating property."
Here we see that Mr. Frank is quite happy to just leave the vacant Theatre sitting there, where it sits in the heart of the promenade section of town and casts a dark cloud all around it. One has to wonder why the City's leaders would make a deal with someone who obviously does not have the best interests of the City in mind.
He called it a delusion that the Beach Theatre Foundation would buy the building and reopen the theater.
Use of the word "delusion" again evidences that this is a personal matter to Mr. Frank, not a business matter.
"We're under no obligation to sell," said Frank. "It could sit there through eternity whatever it is."
Again, Mr. Frank makes more threats.
The article ends with this:
Frank said he was "at least pursuing an end" while the foundation "had no end."
Mr. Frank has it entirely backwards. The BTF certainly has an end in mind. They want to restore the Theatre to the grandeur it had originally, before Mr. Frank took possession of it and reduced it to blight. No one has any idea what end he has in mind. He has thrown out many possibilities for the property, but who knows what he'll really do. Based on his quotes in this article, there is only one clear end for Mr. Frank:
Sticking it to the Beach Theatre Foundation.
To reiterate: one has to wonder about the wisdom of the present City leadership and its decision to get in bed with Mr. Frank.