Mr. Geary writes that he "(has) it on good authority ("sources say") that the city has offered Mr. Kane the option of having parking decks at NHE on the same basis as they are supplied downtown". One would think that this would have made it to the news, the offer and the rejection of it. Rumors that are "on good authority" are suspect when a political football is involved. Let the "authorities" come forward and speak publicly if this is true.
According to Dr. Meymandi's letter to the News and Observer on Aug 16, 2007 "The North Hills East project is creating 2,700 jobs. It will pay $550 million in incremental tax revenue." This is the same civic minded Dr. Meymandi who gave several million dollars to create the wonderful concert hall to the right of Memorial Auditorium, which is owned by the city and used by our NC Symphony among many others. He also says in the same letter to the editor that "The $75 million in question is not a subsidy by the city, it is not a handout and it is not welfare for the rich. The city will be rewarded amply for the investment by increased tax revenues."
This is the same Dr. Meymandi who has done a lot to try to come up with a plan for Dix that will preserve it for the people of the city and the state. I trust his instincts and the evenhandedness of his assessment on this one more than I would most people, because he likely has no political axe to grind and has shown himself to be and advocate and supporter of the City of Raleigh.
By the way, in response to Roger Koopman's comments about responding to areas with "more urgent needs" - I would say that if all one responds to are "urgent needs", one can miss out on great opportunities. This is a chance to see the kind of dense, "smart growth", that we see given lip service so often. Here is an opportunity to see it through with a proven developer. Spaces such as the one Mr. Kane proposes are good for the city. The challenge for the City Council is to define the parameters of the TIFs such that there is not a line of developers at the door with much less desirable projects.
It might be a bit more complex than the article would imply. The city has spent around 1 billion dollars in the past few years sprucing up downtown. And like the author's article turns $75 million into $140 million - I am sure that after interest it will cost a lot more than $1000 million (1 billion) - maybe $2000 millions by the time all is said and done with downtown redevelopment.
We hear a lot about smart growth, higher density growth, and reducing sprawl. Presumably we are trying to model our fair city on a Boston or a San Francisco, not the Los Angeles model. Until we run out of land (think Fuquay Varina, Benson), it will simply be cheaper to build out, rather than up (with the exception perhaps of the inner city).
Parking decks are necessary if one does not wish to pave acres and acres with asphalt around tall buildings. Parking decks are very expensive to build because of the weight they have to hold (think about all those cars packed side by side).
Now, whether this Kane proposal is simply a big giveaway (and even worse - to a rich man) like the author seems to be saying, or is a reasonable attempt to encourage higher density (and do we really want that anyway is a separate issue) - I don't have a clue. The devil is in the financial details and you probably need an accountant to truely get a handle on how this will work out. It also depends on what Kane will actually build if this proposal is denied. And only he can determine that (he well may not know at this point).
And I certainly agree with the author that everyone building a parking deck, greenspace in a commercial development, and any similar item will be at the City Council, hat in hand unless the City stops this one. If they approve it, they better have some very clear rules about when it might be acceptable and when not acceptable - like maybe setting the limits of consideration as a radius from City Hall's current location for one thing - to encourage density close to town.
Or, to be really silly, maybe the City should just buy the land from Kane and build another Convention Center and subsidize some more hotel construction around it like they did downtown. Then we'd be the first city in the South with two conventions possible at the same time! Think of the shuttle bus revenue!
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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