Sunday, February 22, 2015

IBJ Thinks City Taxpayers Should Save Circle Centre Mall

Who didn't see this coming? Last week, the IBJ had a story about the struggling Simon-run Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis. Indianapolis taxpayers were forced to put up $187 million of the $320 million it originally cost to build the mall. Taxpayer debt on the mall after 20 years stands at $145 million. This week, the business publication, which has been transitioning from a serious news publication that used to have good investigative journalism to a publication which publishes press releases for a fee, has an editorial demanding city leaders step forward with a plan to save the mall.

The City, without any public debate, exempted the mall's anchor from paying property taxes on their share of the mall late last year. The constitutional notion of equal treatment under the law is pretty much dead letter law in this country when it comes to taxation. The billionaire Simons, whose equity in the mall stands at just 14.7%, and some of their downtown mafia friends may be the only ones making any profit from the heavily-subsidized mall, but it's apparently the responsibility of the working class population to pony up the money to keep it viable since the mall was built on their dime originally, not the 1% class of freeloaders who profit from it.

The IBJ runs story after story, week after week, talking about all of the new development downtown and the great numbers of people moving downtown, but those tens of thousands of new downtown residents apparently don't feel strongly enough about the mall to do their shopping there. Yet downtown cannot remain viable without it, or so we're told, and if downtown fails, the entire city fails. Cost is no objective. We count more than $3 billion in investments made in downtown over the past few decades, but still more investment is needed there no matter how badly other neighborhoods throughout the city are deteriorating. After all, how could we be a world class city if we don't have ample shopping opportunities for our out-of-town visitors?


Anonymous said...

How about Simon actually pays for something for once.

Why are we supposed to be impressed reading about the ridiculous home and lifestyle we paid for?

Let's stuff the mob's soccer stadium in there while we are at it.

Anonymous said...

I had the same thoughts, Mr. Welsh. It sure seems like local media is trying to drive public opinion on this. I smell another raw deal for indy taxpayers... Soon we will see a proposal for major rehab of circle centre mall. Unfortunately the city somehow owns an 85% stake in the mall, so you can bet we will be asked to pay a similar size portion of any project. All in the name of economic development and our city's precious downtown image no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Gary, you are again absolutely correct. With all the downtown pay-to play investment usually funded by the tax money of hardworking, overtaxed Circle City residents I personally witnessed since the Lugar years one would think that if free market forces supported the initial downtown taxpayer backed investments the business and hotel and housing options that developed since then would not necessitate more infusions of public funds via TIF, tax abatement schemes, etc.

As a recent guest at the Asherwood 100 +/1 acre Simon estate where I saw up close and personal that nothing exceeds like excess, I wondered how many taxpayers paid for that 50,000 SF mansion, the golf course outside, and the 10k SF guest house. Except for caretakers, the place is like a ghost town... and epitomizes how the Simons come in like vultures, fill their bellies, and leave the picked bones for someone else to clean up. The kicker... the billionaires no longer live there but maybe several weeks or so out of a year.

And our politicos profit as well.. read Rex Early brag how he turned his purchase of Indianapolis Cablevision shares in almost a million dollars... it's all connections and it's all pay to play.

I am sick to death of it. Joe Hogsett is Greg Ballard in a thinner body, a more stylish suit, far better elocution, and some style but he is still a crony who will continue the corruption.

Josh said...

Hmmm. Perhaps it would make a nice city/county jail/law enforcement center/fema camp?

Flogger said...

The Downtown Mall was a loser from Day One in terms of economic viability. The fact the City (read tax payers) had to bear the lion share of the costs was a huge red flag. The Politicians and the Mega-Media put forth these various down town schemes among them: Sports Stadiums, the Convention Center as some type of economic engine, which would spur development.

Further development did occur with the price tag of further subsidies direct and indirect for Down Town.

At this point it probably not even philosophically painful for our Mega-Media to conclude, in their thoughts only, the Down Town Model is a total complete failure. They have bought into completely to the idea of Crony-Capitalism. Snake oil salesmen is what they are.

Anonymous said...

The urbanist people are pushing density hard, and nobody on that side wants to admit that only a few people want to live that way.

Downtown failed. Density failed. Walking failed.

People want cars and parking lots, and they don't want to be jammed in like sardines in a place like Indy, where everyone else gets to stretch out and comfortable park two cars and maybe a motorcycle.