What a difference a $100 million lawsuit makes.

The president and CEO of Step Up on Second, Todd Lipka, spoke and answered questions from Greensboro city councilmembers via Zoom at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Lipka’s presentation was far different from his presentation at the May 23, 2023 City Council work session and meeting, when the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with Step Up to renovate the Regency Inn into a permanent supportive housing facility.

At the May 23 meeting, Lipka noted that Step Up had projects underway in Asheville and Winston-Salem. About the project in Asheville Lipka said, “We are well into a 150-unit conversion in Asheville and will be opening up before the end of the year.”

At the Feb. 6 meeting, Lipka, in response to a question from City Councilmember Zack Matheny, said, “We’re not contracted in Asheville, and in Winston-Salem we don’t anticipate we will be moving forward.”

Converting the Oaks motel in Greensboro to permanent supportive housing, which was a major part of the discussion in May 2023, is also reportedly off the table.

The motel conversion of the Regency Inn also appears to be off the table. The presentation included a site plan that did not include the old motel but had the 5-acre site developed with 58 permanent supportive housing units and 143 apartment units.

At the May 23 meeting, Lipka said, “We have pursued motel conversions because we know we can do that faster than a tax credit deal. We can do it much less expensively.”

He added, “The governor of California adopted this model for a statewide program called Homekey, and we’re really doing this across the country.”

The Homekey project mentioned is currently the subject of a $100 million lawsuit filed by the California Attorney General against Shangri-La Construction and naming Step Up. In May, Lipka talked quite a bit about the partnership with Shangri-La Construction and said, “In our relationship with both entities, Step Up is part owner, is an ownership entity.”

In May, Lipka also said that Step Up and its partner Slate Property Group had done an analysis of the Regency Inn site and noted that no additional city money would be needed for the project.

At the Feb. 6 meeting, whether or not the project would require more funding from the city was an unanswered question.

Both Matheny and Councilmember Sharon Hightower tried to get some indication of a timeline on when the construction might start and both failed to get their questions answered.