Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Park or Economic Freedom?

Well, the city continues in its never-ending blood-lust for a park downtown.

Don't get me wrong. It'd be nice to have a park downtown. But that doesn't mean you can trample property rights. It also doesn't mean that what would go up wouldn't be better and more beneficial for the community than a park.

Think of the potential negatives of a park:
  1. What can you do on a piece of grass that you can't already do downtown? Does the city actually think there's going to be Ultimate Frisbee competitions on this small patch of land?

  2. There's a possibility it becomes a haven for homeless people, or who knows what (possibly even "Occupiers." *shiver*)
  3. When its city property it no longer pays property tax.
Again, this doesn't even mention that the new development could be much better than a park, or the potential chilling effect this could have on downtown development, or even development in Greater Wilmington.

The city held up a development called "The View" with these same principals for years and now we have a "wall of keys" on Front St. downtown, which Bill Saffo called "art," instead of a building with apartments and shops.

Does anyone remember the Gateway project? The city did the same thing to those developers and nearly bankrupted them in the process.

Oh well. Who's going to want to build here after a while? Who's going to want to come here? I can tell you that many in the development community are already fed up with the city government and have been for a long time. Is it any surprise that 9 out of 10 downtown business owners say that it's easier to do business with other city governments that it is with Wilmington?

The city of Wilmington has considered shelling out more than $2 million to buy the half of the Water Street deck as the decades-old structure that was planned for redevelopment sits unchanged.

For about a year, the city and PB&G Partners LLC have locked horns over what to do with the deck that both entities co-own. The original plan was for PB&G to demolish the deck and transform it into condos and shops. But the contract between the city and PB&G, which gave the company three years to start development, ended in 2010. Now the city has an option to buy back the company's half at $3 million or market value, whichever is less.

In February, City Manager Sterling Cheatham, on direction from city council, sent a letter to PB&G Partners LLC stating the city would like to enter into discussions about buying the deck for its appraised value, $2.4 million, minus the approximately $350,000 the city claims the developers still owe for parking receipts. [This is another whole issue that I'm surprised the developers don't slam the city on.]

[...]PB&G balked at the city's offer to buy the deck and presented its plans for a new development to council in April.

[...]"The city has fundamentally ignored all of our development plans," [developer Bud Dealey] said.

Dealey said the group has since lost its U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding to transform the property into upscale apartments for people over 55 years old with shops below as well as space for parking and a city park. [No doubt because they were held up for so long]

"I doubt that we're ever going to be permitted to build anything," he said.

[...]The city's goal with Water Street deck was to turn part of it into a city park.

Note to anyone else who may have land that the city wants for a park: you have no rights.

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