Sunday, October 28, 2007

Candidate Views

Polar views on city's direction
Henry sees upswing; Kelty decline in race to replace Richard

One of the most divisive developments in Fort Wayne also splits the mayoral ticket: Harrison Square.

Kelty has long attacked the public-private development, saying it used slush funds to create incentives and provides subsidized housing for the wealthy. Henry, however, said the project has brought $50 million in private investment to the city’s core and will draw millions more in the future.

The $120 million project includes a Courtyard by Marriott with parking garage, a privately built condominium and retail building and a city-owned $30 million baseball stadium. Prep work has already begun on the project site on the southwest corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Harrison Street downtown.

Richard has touted the public-private development as a way to spur further investment in the city’s urban core without using general property taxes. The project gets its public financing from economic development income taxes, property taxes generated by the project and property taxes generated by the Jefferson Pointe area.

Several public opinion polls showed a large number of residents unhappy with building a new baseball stadium downtown. Kelty has seized on that, trashing the project on a regular basis. He went so far to say Harrison Square is the perfect example of how he wouldn’t conduct a deal because it didn’t have enough private investment or bring enough good jobs to the city.

Henry, however, said the city’s core has gone years – if not decades – without seeing the kind of new, private investment that Harrison Square will bring. He said he has already heard of new businesses interested in locating downtown because of the project.