Friday, April 10, 2009

Today's CentrePointe debate

I have refrained from posting about CentrePointe as a common topic because there is so much dialogue elsewhere, but there comes a time when the mis-information out there becomes too great.

The Herald-Leader has lately abdicated its role as a purveyor of balanced news and now just throws out inciting articles as solid news in an effort to sell papers, without any corroborating details of the facts in the matter.

On the other hand, Ace Weekly has left its Arts, Culture & Entertainment heritage and gone straight to whining about things that they have very little understanding. In their posting for today, they have demonstrated just how little they know about the downtown block of which they rant so much. I have responded to their posts before and have been moderated so as to not be published. Therefore I will post here what I commented there, in case they discard my words as inappropriate for their readers tender ears.

The CentrePointe project, is and has always been a private project. Their (Ace Weekly)post show clearly that they do not understand the workings of TIF and who receives and uses the tax money. The Webb Companies have never asked for TIF financing but did offer it as a possibility for the City to undertake. The TIF agreement is to be between the City and the State. The increased tax revenue, which would be generated by a private project, and all other incremented revenue in the agreed upon district that is destined for the State use would have a portion diverted to the City, for use in the TIF district. Such City uses would include infrastructure repairs and new City enhancement projects, all legitimate tax money uses. It would not go to a developer to complete his private project. To date, no tax monies have been used to further the CentrePointe development and none have been promised.

As I commented on the Herald-Leader site, the other commenters there have called for the City to take back the block and develop it in some civic way and to stop wasting tax money that we don't have. Some called for a park(some temporary, some permanent), others a basketball arena, farmers market, new city hall, outdoor civic arena surrounded with shops, etc... All of these will take more tax money(lots) than we have spent so far($0) and start with spending $8 million to buy the block from a private developer. These detractors have not raised, nor are they willing to raise, such funds. This so called "creative class" cannot figure out how to get the ball rolling, nor can they accept someone else's proposal.

This block has always been in private hands and those who own and pay taxes on property should be allowed to use their property as they wish, within limits of good and safety. In a similar vein, I cannot tell this "creative class" that they have to drive a certain type of auto or that the downtown area would be auto free. These are dictatorial measures and should not be tolerated unless agreed upon by the masses(good luck with that).

I have been and will be for the redevelopment of downtown properties, that includes this one, and I will continue to distribute, to the best of my abilities, the correct information about Lexington(it's past, it's present and it's future) and what happens on it's streets.

2 comments:

Sherman Cahal said...

A very good post. It's a shame that so many were posting inappropriate or speculative comments on the H-L's web-site, but that is par for the course for newspaper commenting locales. I do respect the artistic community, but when you are still protesting the demolition of historic and non-historic properties, and want to throw sunflower seeds to sprout up something organic in what is the most valuable property in central Kentucky...

lexdan said...

To say that the Webbs never asked for the TIF financing is just not right. When they first unveiled the plans for CentrePointe to the public the were asking for TIF money. The initial plans had the money going to pay for stuff like a parking garage, pedways, and a jumbo tron, all of which were to augment CentrePointe.

At the Courthouse Review Board meeting where they approved the demolition of the block, the Webbs said that they didn't need the TIF. Of course after the demolition was approved, they came back with new plans for the TIF which attempt to buy up support from the neighboring businesses with things like sidewalk improvements. They even volunteered to pay for the study needed to for TIF approval.

TIF was intended to improve blighted areas. Unlike the Distillery District, downtown Lexington is far from a blighted area. TIF is very controversial and has been used in many cities as a means to funnel taxpayer money to developers. I recommend reading the articles here:

http://www.chicagoreader.com/tifarchive/

If the city wants to make improvements to downtown, then they should do so through the normal budgetary means.

As for making the block a park, yes of course it is private property. But that doesn't mean that the city couldn't make an offer to buy the land. If it would costs $8 million as you say, well that seems pretty reasonable to me. I would think the Webbs would jump at the chance to back out of this project. It didn't make much sense to me before the economic meltdown. It definitely doesn't make any sense now even without the big financial backer dying without a will.