PHOENIX–A confused Scottsdale city council met on Tuesday night to discuss what action to take against a developer who is refusing to disclose sensitive financial information about a $557-million mixed-use project currently under way.

The project is now entering its third year, and the city has repeatedly requested additional financial information from developer Steve Ellman, who heads up The Ellman Companies based in Phoenix. The city has a $100-million investment of public money at stake and wants assurance that Ellman has the wherewithal to complete the project.

The council met for five hours to discuss the problem. “I saw how they were struggling to make a decision, so I suggested the city manager meet with us,” says Bob Kaufman, a senior VP for Ellman’s firm.

Ellman has already handed over reams of information, but has withheld some of the most telling. The company is privately held, and Ellman has a reputation for shunning the spotlight.

The cornerstone of the development is a 17,500-seat ice hockey arena for the Phoenix Coyotes, which Ellman is in the process of purchasing for $87 million. He has until Dec. 31 to complete the sale, but has said he will close it by Oct. 15.

If relations between the city and Ellman don’t improve, the city could refuse to extend the life of a stadium district, which would cut Ellman off from at least $100 million in public money for the arena.

The ice hockey arena is just one element of this redevelopment of the former Los Arcos Mall, a 72-acre site that sits at the southeast corner of McDowell and Scottsdale roads. The development will include major retail tenants, specialty shops, restaurants, bars, high-rise office space, condominiums, apartments and movie theaters.

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