Saturday, July 10, 2010

When Will Downtown Be Able To Stand on Its Own Two Feet?

Perusing new (to me) blogs and I tripped over some distressful news at Indy Tax Dollars. In his entry "A curious array...", blogger Fred McCarthy notes that Circle Centre Mall just might need financial incentives to retain the mall anchor stores.

Say what?

Taking quotes from an IBJ article by reporter, Cory Schouten ("Circle Centre vies to keep anchor stores"), McCarthy summarizes the situation that the City is looking to bail out yet another downtown endeavor thusly:

These little tidbits made us wonder whether the CIB is now "negotiating" for the city with regard to mall properties. We have the involved public official who doesn't know when the leases come up for renewal. We have no idea about potential costs to the taxpayer because "...Simon has not yet made a request..." We're flying blind because suggested recipients of municipal generosity pay rent "...not spelled out in publicly available documents." And, we don't know whether we might wind up subsidizing a store to compete with itself!

Why is "more money" always the answer rather than "alternative uses?" With tax dollar proposals for bikers' showers, adequate public transportation and subsidy of a retail mall, there must be a place for the word "Priority." Maybe we should have said "A Me First Array...'

Schouten reports that while the mall turned a $8.9 million profit on $23 million revenue last year, an increase in profit over the year before, the sales per square foot have dropped from $374 to $330.

The IBJ penned an editorial on June 26th that can be summarized by "its not just money, its civic pride". They say:
After all that effort and considerable investment on the part of the city and the 20 mostly local companies that have a stake in the mall, it would be naïve to expect the city to stand on the sidelines and let nature—in this case, retail sales—take its course.

I have to ask why "nature" isn't doing well enough here. From Schouten's report it seems that there is a still tidy 38% profit margin.

I agree with McCarthy - the act of setting priorities seem to be lacking in Indianapolis. I would add that there is also a driving need for a complete, holistic, look at downtown - how much it costs, what the real benefits are. Once we know for sure what is what, THEN we can intelligently discuss options for the use, or not, of taxpayer resources in a plan to once and for all get this money pit under control. Because right now, it is only about MORE and BIGGER bailouts.


Jobs with Justice said...

There is a group of every day folks that have had four meetings so far to develop a plan to hold elected officials accountable and get the state law changed that makes the Metropolitan Development Commission in charge of these decisions instead of the city county council. Send folks our way who want to work on this. The next meeting is July 28th at 6:00 at AFSCME Council 62, 1424 N Pennsylvania. For more info, call Jobs with Justice at 917-0723 x 33

Larry W. Williams said...

Ponzi schemes never stop needing infusion of new money, otherwise they collapse. Many "public servants" believe they have unlimited power to obligate their subjects through debt to perpetuate their schemes - the transfer of wealth to the wealthy. They will not stop until we make them stop.

Anonymous said...

When I first learned of the construction of the mall,I wondered just who were they building this for?

If I remember correctly,various media outlets had a financial stake in the mall,thus the lack of critical commentary. Also if I remember correctly,I think the private share holders in the mall are paid (if there's any profit) first. I wonder if the public's share of the monies for construction of the mall exceeded those of the private sector,and if so,why are we the last in line to be paid back?