Sunday, August 01, 2010

"Been there and done that"

Notes on Downtown development from Buffalo: "A downtown history of empty promises", with a cameo quote from everyone's favorite former mayor.

The state of Downtown here is a complex question.  It really does seem to me that Downtown after hours is far more active than back in the day when it was like one of those post-armageddon computer games if you were ever down there after 7pm on a weeknight.  A lot of that seems to me, completely unscientifically mind you, to be students which I presume are PP and Duq students.   It will of course be one of the bigger stories to come from the dump of census data we will get in the spring that the resident population Downtown will be up significantly.  Percentage-wise it may be the neighborhood with the biggest percentage increase.  There is some wonkish caveats to the measurement of that peculiar to Downtown, but we'll save that for the future.

So I think it's a good thing that Downtown is not a no-mans land after dusk.  Nonetheless, a question worth pondering on that is something that has been pointed out to me.. though obvious when you think about it:  have any of the new residential units Downtown been built out without public subsidies. In some cases very significant subsidies and in some cases tax breaks on top of that.  Is there any sign that the public investment has sparked any current development that did not need subsidies?  Will there will ever be any residential development Downtown without a lot of public subsidization?  Worth asking in itself, and then pondering the question that follows about what other neighborhood residential development could have happned for the same scale of $$ we are talking about.


Anonymous BrianTH said...

Of course tax abatements could end up being a good investment purely from a tax perspective, at least in the long run. I'm not saying that is always true, but Downtown strikes me as a case where it at least could be true.

Sunday, August 01, 2010 11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a complicated issue. But the question I'd ask is, "Are there any pressures to limit the amount of subsidy in development projects?" Conventional wisdom says that a limited amount of subsidy and political pressure to spread that subsidy around should be sufficient to maximize the efficient use of subsidy. But in deals where the subsidy is used to reduce risk, and it's hard to be precise on how to price that risk, than it's better to over- than under-subsidize. No one wants to risk failure in a publicly sponsored program. And it sounds like there is not a lot of transparency or debate about whether or not subsidies are used appropriately. So there is little downside to over-subsidization.

Monday, August 02, 2010 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom Murphy Bridge said...

But it has no anchor per se, Murphy said. "In some ways, it's easier to get the home run than four singles," he said. "It's always a temptation, but it can be a huge failure. . . If you partner with a smart retailer to do the right mix, you don't need any one blockbuster."

Do you think he meant it the other way round ... easier to get four singles than home run? Anyway, no wonder he's so unpopular, using a baseball rather than a football analogy. It's like he never heard of the Steelers!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 4:55:00 PM  

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