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Columbus pushes for money from Yard
Posted on Tuesday, March 31 @ 23:02:43 EDT by Admin

News from the small city Justice writes "

The more I follow the Grandview Yard story, the more I feel that nothing will come of the project beyond the few buildings scheduled to start construction sometime this year. When they have no retail signed and are starting construction in the “hope that it will generate more interest”, all this posturing seems like a kabuki with no payoff. But Columbus is taking the project seriously enough to finally (after more than a year from the announcement of G.Y.) put up a bargaining position on the issue of lost jobs and tax revenue.

Both the Dispatch and the Tri-Village News had articles about the new request from Columbus mayor Coleman for tax money from G.Y. Interesting to read the differing viewpoints in these two stories, the Dispatch story leads with Columbus “fighting federal aid” if they don't get some tax money from the Yard. The TVN story turns down the heat and says Columbus will not “prevent the development”, just not do anything to help with federal aid without the right deal. Who knows which story is correct? These dealings will be done far from the public, so we are never going to know whether Coleman could be passive or active in blowing the G.Y. deal. The big D story sure puts the screws down harder, to the advantage of Coleman in the negotiations.

Why has it taken so long to get to the bargaining table with Columbus? Word in Grandview is that Mayor DeGraw has been trying for months to have talks with Coleman, but Coleman has stiff-armed all advances. Given the rapid changes in the economy during the last year this is not without logic. A deal made during the optimism of December 2007 would have been based on bad assumptions.

The Dispatch story goes into a little of the intra-regional fighting for business among central Ohio cities. This game is done too often and always makes businesses the winners, to the detriment of the schools and tax bases of our cities. The regional cooperation agreements mentioned in the story need to be completed to stop this game.

The news reports don't have much on NRI's position, with a foot in both the Arena District and the G.Y. The assumption is that they will only be pulling office space business from the older parts of downtown, that few will move out of new spaces in the A.D. just to relocate a mile away. The A.D. has no retail sales to speak of, so that's not a conflict. The housing in G.Y. would be attractive to parents who want good schools, impacting a different market segment. The restaurant and entertainment business in the A.D. could be negatively effected by G.Y. , I guess NRI thinks there will be room for both (although the drop in the Brewery District fortune points to a flaw in that assumption).

Given the long history of the Arena District and the Columbus, you might also assume there are well-trod pathways between the offices of NRI and the city. Given this burst of discontent by Coleman, I think the relationship is not a happy one. Seeing the A.D. prosper while the rest of downtown rots will do that.

Taxing numbers

The Columbus city position according to the Dispatch is that they want all of the income tax from jobs that move from the city to G.Y. They estimate 1K jobs and $35 million in lost tax income over the next 30 years. Patrik Bowman, G.H.'s director of administration and development, is quoted saying "You can't expect (100 percent of income taxes)." The article points out that Coleman refused to share tax money with Gahanna after Columbus lured away 900 jobs. Coleman doesn't seem to have a good position to make this demand.

Columbus officials also want $37 million over the next 30 years, for … well, just because. I didn't read any justification for this money other than lost potential for downtown development. Grandview has offered $20 million.

Some might view all these negotiations as extortion, some as fair compensation for lost opportunity. If Coleman really has the inside track with Obama that the article hints at, you would think he could be getting more direct federal economic stimulus money for Columbus's own projects. If he only has the power to say no to Grandview's hopes, that's B.S. But it is B.S. that Grandview can't afford to ignore.


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