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Firm Denies Interest in Trade Center

July 28, 1988|JAMES S. GRANELLI | Times Staff Writer

H. Thomas Felvey, a consultant who put together a project team for a proposed world trade center complex in Santa Ana, did not have permission to add a major development firm to the roster, the firm's officers said this week.

Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, which is based in Boston, was never interested in the project and never agreed to become a member of the team, said Gary Toeller and William Dunlap, vice presidents in Cabot's commercial division in Los Angeles.

Felvey's 4-year effort to build a $96-million world trade center in downtown Pomona failed this year because he could not obtain necessary commitments from investors and tenants.

As a result of the disclosure by Cabot, the World Trade Center Assn. of Orange County is scrambling to find another developer to take Cabot's place and help it build a $100-million office and hotel complex catering to firms involved in foreign trade.

"Yes, we were disappointed," said Susan T. Lentz, the association's executive director. "But this project has had its ups and downs. It hasn't dimmed our enthusiasm."

Felvey, a Laguna Niguel architect, claimed that he did nothing wrong. But he declined to elaborate, saying only that the project team had not yet been formalized.

Felvey's role as a consultant ended July 15, when he submitted the proposed project team's qualifications to the Santa Ana Redevelopment Agency. The submission was the first step of the association's effort to win its bid to develop the center.

5-Acre Site

The Santa Ana Redevelopment Agency, which owns a vacant 5-acre site on which the trade center association wants to build the complex, has yet to decide if it will extend the deadline to allow the group to amend its filing.

The agency had already extended the cutoff to July 25 to allow Felvey to file information on Cabot and to allow another group bidding to develop the site to complete its package.

Felvey's proposed team included such major companies as the Bechtel Group in San Francisco and his former employer, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, a Chicago-based architectural firm.

The filing named Cabot as the primary developer, but it contained blank pages that were to include information on the firm.

"We never told Tom (Felvey) we would be on the team," Toeller said. "We never responded in a positive way."

Toeller and Dunlap said Cabot had been among about 150 developers solicited by the redevelopment agency to bid on rights to develop the property. After evaluating the feasibility of new office and commercial space in downtown Santa Ana, they said, the firm decided not to bid.

Listened to Pitch

Felvey, who knew that Cabot was one of the developers solicited, called to see if the firm would join with Bechtel and others in building the world trade center, Toeller said.

Although he told Felvey that he wasn't interested, Toeller said, he agreed to listen to his pitch. Felvey's July 11 presentation and a later effort to persuade Cabot to join didn't succeed, Toeller and Dunlap said.

After stories on the trade center association and Felvey appeared in The Times, a redevelopment agency employee, Josephine La Quay, began calling members of the proposed team to assure them that they would not be working with Felvey.

The stories detailed the association's effort to get a center built and Felvey's previous business activities, including an unsuccessful effort to build a world trade center in Pomona and a trail of unfinished deals and unpaid debts dating back 11 years.

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