-Suburban Philadelphia real estate developer Ken Goldenberg donate $20,000 to Mayor Ed Rendell and $15,000 to future Mayor John Street's campaigns, respectively.
-Mayor Rendell and Disney sign "non-binding letter of intent" to take Eighth and Market site off the market while Disney looks into bringing DisneyQuest to Philadelphia
-"No public money or incentives are involved in Disney's Chicago DisneyQuest venture", said Becky Carroll, spokesperson for the Chicago's Department of Planning and Development.
-Developer Goldenberg applies for and receives rezoning variance approval for "unnamed project," namely DisneyQuest.
-In the days leading up to and directly after the zoning vote, Street's campaign receives $15,000 from key players in the deal.
-Mayor Rendell gets a high five from Goofy at City Hall Press Conference to formally announce Disney's plans to build DisneyQuest at 8th and Market site. Target open date: July 2000, before the Republican National Convention comes to Philadelphia.
-Project developers main law firm, several partners, and project architect donate $26,000 to Street's mayoral campaign the day before Street and City Council vote preliminary approval of 25$ million tax break/subsidy (tax increment financing) for developer to defray construction costs. City officials estimate it will cost city taxpayers $76.6 million dollars over 20 years. Subsidy bill is introduced by Councilman DiCicco.
-A week later, the developer donates another $15,000 to Street's warchest.
-Street, having resigned from City Council to run for Mayor, takes a job with the law firm representing the developer in the Disney negotiations.
-Developer also gets a 10$ million commitment from Phila Parking Authority to buy about 1/3 of the property and $28 million to purchase the proposed 988 car parking garage, allowing the developer money to start construction. Originally not involved in the project, the Parking Authority is brought in by Rendell when developer can't find enough money to buy land, nor a company to run the parking. Disney threatened to pull out if construction didn't start by January.
Developer Goldenberg "breaks ground."
-Daily News tabulates that, in all, Street received donations totaling $82,000 from key players during the one year the Disney deal made its way through City Hall. Rendell netted a paltry $35,000.
-With the project again faltering, the City announces last minute deal to save DisneyQuest, upping the Phila Parking Authority's contribution to $48 million to purchase part of the land and build a 988 car garage.
-Construction comes to a halt due to lack of funds, leaving our DisneyHole!
-Developer is having a hard time leasing out space in the building, going after big fancy stores, which he needs to secure financing by June 1 deadline, put forth by Phila Parking Authority, who say they'll just make it a parking garage if deal falls through and find another developer. Disney is currently the only tenant secured.
-Developer signs deal with other developer with more money, which "secures" financing. Rendell says that because of the new partner PA Real Estate Investment Trust or PREIT-Rubin, the city will renegotiate the June 1 deadline.
-Disney announces cutbacks in development of new initiatives including DisneyQuest, but refuses to comment on whether it affects the Philly DisneyQuest project.
-Rendell announces a for-profit aquarium, a sci-fi restaurant and a 17 screen megaplex have signed on. He also says that Disney can walk away from the project at any time according to their agreement with the developer.
-Despite developer PREIT-Rubin claim of owning 25 million square feet of office space around the country and access to lotsa capital, developers present a $35 million shortfall to the city. Mayor Street looks for more city money through either loans from the municipal pension fund or building trade unions, or more tax breaks. If the other $35million is city funds, the total project will be 2/3 city funded.
-City kicks in another $1 million to get construction started again to meet new Disney deadline, cause they can still walk out at anytime. They do a little more excavation.
-Street declares DisneyQuest project "dead." More than $70 million worth of public financing had already been arranged for the project and, Street said, no more would be available. Mayor and Councilman DiCicco express their hope that another development deal, maybe with Disney, maybe not, will happen. "Eighth and Market is still a very attractive site," DiCicco said, noting the recent restaurant boom in Old City and the revitalization that city leaders hope will come to Chestnut Street now that it has reopened to cars. "With all the other development occurring in Center City, it won't be long before another development comes along." Disney gives its mandatory 30 days notice to developers they must restart construction or it's gone.
-Disney officially dumps DisneyQuest, and Philly as a site for anything. This includes closing the DisneyQuest in Chicago, laying off 270 employees.
-The Philadelphia Parking Authority board votes on Jan. 28 to withdraw from the project and is now legally obligated to purchase the site from the developer for $12 million. The authority paid $10 million to buy adjacent land for a garage near the proposed DisneyQuest and issued $47 million in tax-exempt bonds to build a garage Disney demanded. (The authority would now use part of the unspent funds to buy the property.)
-Philadelphia Industrial Redevelopment Authority launches Save the DisneyHole campaign which includes the Museum Of Corporate Welfare proposal and The Great DisneyHole Exposition.
Thanks to Ken Carl and Rich Wilson for research on the timeline.