Sunday, November 25, 2012

The High Cost Taxpayers Will Pay To Redevelop One Block Of Mass Ave

The Star finally got around to reporting on neighborhood opposition in Lockerbie to the proposed relocation of Fire Station #7 on Mass Ave to make way for the redevelopment of the 500 block of Mass Ave where the fire station, IFD headquarters and the Firefighters Credit Union is currently relocated. When the City announced the $43 million mixed use development planned for the block, it gave few details, including a plan it had reached many months earlier for the site of the new fire station. It also suggested taxpayers were only kicking in about $3 million from the downtown TIF district to cover parking garage-related costs for the new private development. Although the City is giving the valuable land upon which the current firefighter-related buildings currently sit to the developer for nothing, it tried to mislead the public into believing the developer was paying $5.4 million for the land. In reality, the developer was merely placing that amount in escrow as security for the project. Once the developer moves forward with its project, it can tap all of that money for construction-related costs.

All of the existing firefighter-related entities must be relocated first. The IFD headquarters is being relocated to former IPS School #97 at 1401 E. 10th Street at a cost of about $4 million. The proposed new fire station the City wants to build on the North Lockerbie parcel owned by developer Joe Whitsett--despite opposition by neighborhood association--will cost an estimated $11 million. The City must also pay to relocate the Firefighters Credit Union out of TIF funds. The City has not yet determined how much that will cost taxpayers. Before it's all done and said, it will likely cost taxpayers as much to redevelop this new city block as the developer will spend on its $43 million mixed use project. When that project is completed, taxes generated from the development will flow to the TIF district and not to other taxing districts, like our schools, libraries or to the City to pay for public safety-related costs. The valuable parcel in North Lockerbie that will be converted to a municipal use as a fire station will yield no tax revenues, and the small portion of the remaining parcel there to be redeveloped is now in a TIF district that will receive all of the property taxes paid on the drastically scaled-down new development planned by the developer.

When you consider that the City lacks the necessary funds it needs to fund basic city services, you have to ask why so much of our tax dollars are being spent on something that yields so little return for a public benefit. During the recent meeting with neighborhood residents, the City complained that it would have to spend about $1.5-$2 million on improvements to the existing fire station if it remained at its current location, which it seemed to suggest was cost-prohibitive. Yet the $11 million price tag for a new fire station is no show stopper. What this demonstrates is that these decisions are being made entirely for the benefit of private developers and other pay-to-play contractors who are making big contributions to the politicians. For a $50,000 contribution to the Mayor's campaign committee, you can get millions of taxpayer dollars simply given to you as a reward. The useless media in this town will tout the new development and the supposed benefits without looking behind the curtain to see what really was taking place.


Jon said...

And after the city pushes the new fire station into Lockerbie and property values decline they will somehow act surprised.

Unknown said...

Gary, you complain about "useless media."
I complain about useless republicans on the council.

CircleCityScribe said...

$2 Million to update the current Fire Headquarters or $11 Million to give it to politically connected developers and build a new fire station in a neighborhood that does NOT want it.

Not to mention that Ballard gave Clarian one of the newest and largest Fire Station #5 and it is demolished and out of service. Now who is protecting Methodist Hospital?????

This is an example of Fiscal Irresponsibility, In the traditions of Democrat-Tax & Spend mentality. -It stinks of corruption, irresponsibility, and someone telling the voters that tax money and voters desires are not important.

artfuggins said...

You owe YOUR city councilor, Vop Osili, for cobbling together this sham of a deal onto the taxpayers of Marion County. Have you let him know of your disapproval? He is going to run for mayor next.