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.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.
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.
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?