September 22, 2005

Moline taxpayers get to be a part of new development

A $4 million to $5 million commercial development is planned for a former bus transfer station on the western edge of downtown and the border of the Floreciente neighborhood.

La Plaza El Mercado is a planned development on 4th and 5th avenues, between 11th and 12th streets. Preliminary plans call for developer Todd Raufeisen to turn the area into a open-air market, office complex and retail center that will hold stores, restaurants and a bank.

The development would have Spanish architecture to reflect the culture of the Floreciente neighborhood, and construction could begin in the spring of 2006.

The project, which is still developing, would sit on land now owned by the city of Moline and MetroLINK. The area, a former MetroLINK bus transfer facility, has been vacant for seven years.

Moline city administrator Lew Steinbrecher said the city is meeting with Mr. Raufeisen to negotiate the terms of a development agreement, which could include about $600,000 in city assistance.

Renew Moline also has been working with the city and Mr. Raufeisen on the project.

"Should this development forge ahead, it will have a significant impact on the redevelopment of 5th Avenue, an area we've ignored for too long. It is time for development to occur," said Renew Moline executive director Jim Bowman.

Mr. Raufeisen approached the city within the last year and a half looking for an investment opportunity. The city suggested he look at the area known as the west gateway, and Mr. Raufeisen became interested in the possibilities.
This project has potential to be a fine addition to the 5th Ave & 12th street area, and at first blush sounds like good news. But as always, it's tempered by the fact that the city taxpayers are coughing up nearly a quarter of the costs. I would be very interested in a figure for just how much the city has tied up in helping various developers. It's easily several million dollars.

I think that if conservatives want to whine about welfare, they ought to pay more attention to the real welfare problem, all the billions of dollars give to developers and corporations at the local, state, and federal level. It's truly rare that a business EVER has to actually finance a development or business themselves anymore.

What does this signify? That business has now effectively become part of government, or more to the point, that government (taxpayers) have become investment bankers?

When did this happen?

Does this mean that if you're wealthy enough to be able to embark on a big development, you should then have nearly all the risk and half the costs assumed by the city taxpayers? Should they ensure that those who are already quite wealthy, simply can't lose?

When did OUR governments become the bank for developers, a bank that gives loans that a prudent bank would never give in a thousand years?

Why aren't people more upset about this? Do they really believe that it's worth all that money to bring in a little increased tax revenue and a few jobs?

I'm 100% certain that if you did an accurate and thorough cost/benefit analysis of all these taxpayer subsidized developments, between the tax districts, tax abatements, tax paybacks, and millions spent on the project, (including in some cases, even paying to market the project to consumers) that it would show that the minimal increases in tax revenue and few jobs created would not begin to equal even a fraction of the money paid out to these investors. (there have been many cases where cities and states have paid out so much to corporations and companies to locate in their state using the excuse of creating jobs that when the costs were broken down, it turned out they'd spent as much as $200,000 per job!)

If Moline taxpayers are invested in all these exciting projects, I think we should be able to participate in the profits as well. How'd we get sold a deal where we take all the risk but realize little or no profit?

I've heard of share the risk, share the profit, but with these schemes it's always share the risk, concentrate the profits. Not good.

Imagine if some guy approached you and asked you to invest $125,000 to open say, a $500,000 butcher shop on the corner of your street, saying that it would improve the area and increase your property value, would you consider it? What if he explained that though he'd be getting all the potential profits of the business, you'd not see a penny, nor would you have any ownership of the business, but it's still worth it since even though the city gave him a tax abatement, he'll eventually have to start paying taxes in ten years, and it will help the town?

Well, as far as I can tell, most commercial projects undertaken in Moline involves you making just such an investment. What do you think?


At 9/22/2005 6:43 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Dope, just wait until the taxes goe up in Moline soon. Then what will the dopey new mayor Welvert have to say about things? After all he never said he would not raise taxes during the campaign even when he was asked about the subject he refused to answer.

I take it he plans to raise taxes this fall. This is just one more debt going down that will force the taxes to rise soon. Watch out -- Welavert is in over his head and is going to take us all to the cleaners on our tax bills!

Those 90 people who voted for him over the much better candidate O'Brien will regret their votes very very soon!!

At 9/22/2005 10:12 AM, Blogger Iowa Libertarian said...

"When did OUR governments become the bank for developers, a bank that gives loans that a prudent bank would never give in a thousand years?"

Welcome to Davenport.

At 9/22/2005 11:09 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Moline needs to learn to say just say no! But the minute an alderman grows some gonads and votes against these corperate give aways they are labeled anti-job,anti-growth!
Remember Dave Wise,Pat O'Brien etc.
Our wonderful newspaper the Daily Dispatch did a hatchet job on both!

At 9/22/2005 12:42 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Diehard makes a good point here. Yes, it seems that the Moline Council members with the most guts to stand up and question things get the shaft from both Deere and the Moline paper, the Dispatch.

What the staff and the business community don't want you to know is that Deere and Company calls all the shots at City hall. In reality the citizens really have no say in what happens as the tradition continues with a Republican in control as usual. Tax dollars paid in go for whatever projects the business community wants - screw the citizens.

For the past 8 years, Alderman O'Brien (who would have been the people's mayor) managed to get some neighborhood projects done without sending an additional bill to the homeowners. Some new alley and street and sidewalks were done using capital tax money.

That is all going away now with Stupid Welvert in charge - all the tax money is going to fund the businessmen projects so they can get richer. Like this development here. Deere and co likes it so it will be a go. The capital money for future neighborhoods will dry up now.

The people of Moline lost a great champion in O'Brien loosing his seat at the table. There's no one left to fight the big battles anymore so it's going to be business as usual - so sad!!

At 9/22/2005 5:18 PM, Blogger politicalwind said...

I concur with the previous bloggers about Pat O'Brien. There is no doubt that his level-headed and common-sense approach to the problems that face Moline -- budget, taxes, services, TIFs, etc. -- would have benefited the city. Moreover, his experience on the council since 1995 would give him the eagle eye needed to pick and choose smart developments versus giveaway developments, etc.

I think he still has a bright future in city politics, or maybe something higher should he choose.

At 9/23/2005 4:31 PM, Blogger latinv said...

You know speaking of Pat O'Brien, it was nice to see him and the other tried and true blue Democrats show up for the first precinct committee person mtg of the year. The job of the pct. committee person is a thankless job and they should be commended. One thing that has always struck me is those that showed up last night and who always show up to work for our party are certainly the core of our party. Thanks to all the good Democrats who are the true heart and soul of our party here in Rock Island County. You know who you are.

At 9/25/2005 12:48 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Yes Latin V - and John G failed to notice or to mention publicly in the meeting that Pat O'Brien has brought some new eager Dems into the fold to work actively as precinct committeemen and get on the ballot to make it official soon. Pat brought in two NEW workers to this meeting who are going to add to the good hard work he's been doing in Moline. Just because Pat narrowly lost his mayor race doesn't mean he stops doing good work to keep people working for Dem causes even if John G fails to give him any pat on the back (no pun intended).

Moline is not going to be exclusively Republican much longer.
Lots of others realize the leadership Pat O'Brien brings in so many ways!

At 5/09/2007 10:03 AM, Anonymous ProphetJoe said...

Well, it's been a little more than 18 months since the last comment to this post and I'm curious how things have played out? Did Raufeisen get his development going? Was it a success or a failure? Have the Dems overthrown the Republican machine in Moline? Inquirying minds want to know!

Actually, I am curious how this played out. Please respond via email if possible.


At 5/09/2007 11:08 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

(heavy sigh)

How am I supposed to reply via email when you leave a comment?

Am I supposed to guess your address?


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