City project manager tells the rest of the Panera Bread story


+ Panera Bread: the rest of the story

Dear Editor:
As the city’s project manager for the Panera Bread application, I can surely tell you that to use the Panera Bread development as the vehicle to further the reputation of Palm Coast as “business unfriendly” in the Jan. 5 story, “Order Canceled,” was a poor choice.

(To read City Manager Jim Landon's reaction to the story, click here. To read other residents' reactions, click here and here.)

This is not the forum to elaborate. Firstly, the trail is lengthy, technical in nature and frankly, not worth the time. The records are plentiful and accountable. And, perhaps more significantly, I see no merit in placating the chosen few in the community who, despite lacking knowledge of the facts and are clueless, the platform to bark out negativism, spin fairy tales with nothing positive to offer other than feed his or her mantra to cast Palm Coast city government and all those associated as either inept, incompetent and/or unscrupulous.

The record speaks for itself on this Panera Bread facility and in particular, the manner chosen by Panera Bread to achieve development approval. The wounds were self-inflicted. The lack of communication by and between the Panera Bread team, the failure to ever meet with city staff throughout the development approval process (which includes site plan, landscape/irrigation, utilities, engineering, stormwater, etc.) and perhaps most significantly, the failure to assign someone within the Panera Bread organization to actively co-ordinate the effort on their behalf contributed significantly to the outcome.

The facts, if thoroughly researched, substantiate the words. Nothing to hide here, no apologies warranted, not on this one. To the general public and in particular to those elderly residents of the community who have visited the facility, well, be thankful staff had you in their thoughts. I leave you to wrestle with that.

Larry Torino
Retired project manager for the city of Palm Coast


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Currently 7 Responses

  • 1.
  • I am a bit taken aback by the attitude I seem to sense in Mr Torino's letter. The feeling I get is that we don't deserve answers and how dare we have the temerity to question things. As I recall the ample taxes levied against the citizens (read homeowners) of Palm Coast are what pay the salaries of our elected and hired government and functionaries. I think this absolutely gives us the right to question actions or lack of actions that impact the growth and fortune of our city. If the attitude of our elected and appointed folks is driving away or making it difficult for business to grow here; darn right I will question it. And I certainly expect better answers than "look it up yourself ".. Maybe this is a symptom of a larger problem.

    Jeff Mathis
    U. S. Navy Retired
    Palm Coast
  • Jeff Mathis
    Fri 25th Jan 2013
    at 10:37pm
  • 2.
  • Plain and simple -- Palm Coast is UNFRIENDLY to businesses that want to come here - our city management makes it very hard for small businesses/any business to be here - the only way things will change is to get rid of the old mentality/current administration.
  • Lori Meyer Ferrara
    Thu 24th Jan 2013
    at 12:21pm
  • 3.
  • does the retired city project manager think he's fooling us? He's only fooling himself.
    He failed to give a reason as to why the contractors don't want to work in Palm Coast.
    I agree with Mr. Norris [thank you for serving in the Army].
    I'm for contacting the state and filing paper wok to unincorporate the city and just being Flagler County.
  • Nisan Nismo
    Tue 22nd Jan 2013
    at 6:18am
  • 4.
  • Mr. Torino, please leave the rest of the story to Paul Harvey (rest his soul). If your attempt to explain the failings in the Panera Bread project is to continue to pass the buck, please enjoy your retirement.

    Regardless of the failings of Panera Bread as you described; “to ever meet with the city staff throughout the process”. The city manager has already stated during his interview that he “agreed that there are problems within the city’s development process that need to be addressed.” Maybe he should apologize to the citizens of Palm Coast, for the person assigned as the project manager, for never meeting with Panera Bread. That person is you Sir, as you admitted in your letter to the editor.

    What professional, organized, and efficient city allows a corporation to build within its city limits without ever meeting with city staff? Please enlighten us, the “clueless”, as you have described the concerned citizens of Palm Coast, who have voiced disappointment in the city management’s handling of the situation. How is it possible that the assigned project manager for a major project for the city never met with representatives from Panera Bread, during the project? That just might be the problem within the city’s development process that needs to be addressed, as mentioned by the city manager.

    Another question would be; do the minutes of the city council meetings reflect the concerns by you or the city manager, in regards to the lack of cooperation between the city and the Panera Bread representatives? I really don’t have time to run these facts to ground, but it seems that those concerns would have become apparent well before the completion of the project, and the subsequent decision by Panera Bread to forego another project in Palm Coast.

    A key principle of leadership is to seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions. Then again True Leadership seems to be what’s missing here in Palm Coast.

    Correction to my previous post, thus taking responsibly for my actions:
    Panera Bread has 1,600 stores not 16,000. The key point of the numbers was to demonstrate that Panera Bread is a major corporation and their number of employees(18,000) is equal to about a quarter of our small city’s total population. We can’t afford to alienate such organizations if we wish to grow and prosper.
    Mike Norris
    U.S. Army Retired
    Palm Coast
  • Mike Norris
    Sun 20th Jan 2013
    at 4:47pm
  • 5.
  • If you think Palm Coast is business friendly,then all the other businesses who refuse to come here must be wrong too
  • frank wollstein
    Sun 20th Jan 2013
    at 3:44pm
  • 6.
  • I have always thought that 2 Panera's would be too much for the size of Palm Coast and will only achieve just to help shut down all the other small bakeries around here, that offer us a larger variety of baked delicacies, Italian, Cuban, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Argentinean, Puerto Rican, Caribbean etc. These smaller stablishments also employ local workers and were here before Panera and need also our sponsorship.
  • palm coaster
    Fri 18th Jan 2013
    at 2:01pm
  • 7.
  • Sounds like the old, two sides to every story. Then it is up to you on whom to believe.
    Ken Gistedt
    Palm Coast
  • kenneth gistedt
    Thu 17th Jan 2013
    at 12:35pm
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