Thursday, October 12, 2006
Millcraft may get $11M in funding - Pittsburgh Business Times:
Bob O'Connor said that the project wouldreceive no public subsidy. So then Fast Eddie, Gov. Ed Rendell, says otherwise. Bang, we're out $11-million!
And, the $11-million is only the start.
I don't have a favorable look upon future state investment for our downtown. I hate it because that means the free market is going to get put into the back seat and nothing else is going to happen, unless it comes with state money.
The price of downtown property just went up with bone headed statements like this. The people who are sitting on property just to speculate on them now don't need to sell them. They can wait it out and make a killing once the state enters the scene with a big old check.
Meanwhile, downtown slids deeper and deeper into its funk. Meanwhile, worthy projects elsewhere don't get attention.
Downtown is an anchor, a weight, a drag on the entire region. And this money means that the weight just got a lot bigger. The burden for picking our selves up with self reliance just exited the scene, if Ed Rendell keeps his job.
Ed wants to be important. I want the marketplace to be more important.
The state should see to it that there is a reliable funding stream for mass transit, not a bailout for some downtown building speculator.
Millcraft just arrived on the scene. Millcraft gets the upside from government money. Meanwhile the bill goes to the taxpayers. Meanwhile, the downward spiral that is downtown won't change.
With Bob O'Connor's approach, we had hope. He said no to eminent domain. Bob O'Connor said we'd take the fix up in baby steps without big development dollars flowing there from public sources. Bob's approach had merit and was a big change from the boneheaded deals of Tom Murphy.
Now Ed Rendell comes along and screws it all up.
Yes, downtown is important. But, it is important enough to leave government the hell out of the way.
When Millcraft gets this state money, it means that there will not be more oganic re-development with housing because property owners will sqat longer on low performing assets, waiting a generation or more for the big-fat government check.
Furthermore, we should never be in a conversation that talks about subsidized housing for rich people.
It would be better to take that $11-million and make a fix-up program for home-owners with low interest loans to get new roofs, sidwalks, porches, furnances, and such.
Spread the money around so no one person gets access to more than a $5,000 loan -- that gets paid back. That is what the URA used to do all the time. Then the purpose of the URA and government changed, for the worse, to become some mega developer for projects that always seem to fail.
Here is another idea: Take the $11-million and use it to cover this year's cash shortage associated with the new Convention Center. The Convention Center has a huge operational cost that is not being covered. The Convention Center has a bit of debt for the building of that 'white elephant' structure. The Convention Center's needs are now spilling over to gobble up $2-million from the RAD Funds. The RAD funds go to pay for Regional Assets, such as library costs.
The $11-million is nothing but the rich getting richer. And, the overall project will suffer. And, we've already given some serious money and benefits to the developer with cheap sales prices.
Plus, it is not as if this area has been neglected. The Lazarus and Lord & Taylor and numerous parking garages have been funded with serious investments. Now we're tossing good money after bad deals of the past. But the city and state will get the same failed outcomes.
The poison was about to come out of the system -- and leave it to Rendell to really screw it up.
I am firmly convinced that the state investment in this project is going to make for critical injury to Pittsburgh and the state. Investing this type of money in this type of project is a boneheaded deal.
To heal the city and the region, we must "Lay The Shovel Down." We must "Think Again."
And, what really hurts, is that Bob O'Connor had gotten that message. Bob wasn't going to cook up a deal with these types of funds to cause such harm to us all.
I have no confidence in the sitting governor nor in Millcrafts ability to own all of downtown. Nor do I want that to occur.
High rise living in the city should not come with public money.