Tuesday, October 23, 2007

From The Debate

Some notes from the Henry/Kelty debate in regards to Harrison Square and downtown development:

Question: Is it reasonable to expect downtown development will occur with limited public support and should downtown development just happen naturally or if not then not at all?

Henry: Harrison Square is here. We need to do all we can to support it and do so on time and if possible under budget. It is more than just recreation, more than a ball diamond.

There are inquires now from businesses for locating at Harrison Square and the surrounding area.

At Midtowne Crossing, it is the first time in its history that it is sold out with a waiting list (to which I can attest).

Young people, empty nesters asking for prices for the unbuilt condos, West Central housing is selling.

Energy about downtown? You bet.
Use TIF? You bet and we should. It's not always appropriate, but in this case it is.

Kelty: Delighted development getting attention. Has been using Harrison Square to demonstrate to public that a deal like this would not be put together by Kelty.

We are tearing down old stadium and putting in a new one.

Hardball gets free rent for 30 years and proceeds from ticket sales, merchandise, luxury, half of naming rights.

Premise flawed from beginning. If such good deal, why not replicate all over downtown? We would go bankrupt.

Tying up property taxes, boondoggle. Can't even afford Kevlar vests.

Henry: West Central building momentum, move to Harrison Square, move to financing district, move east - opportunity all across downtown

Kelty: In order to sustain development, it must be driven by private sector.

Tom Spiece didn't use public money. Looking to bring gymnasium type complex downtown.

Side note: Kelty made no mention of his plan to put a section of downtown under a glass canopy that he first presented to Fort Wayne Observed on April 17, 2007:

I would love to see a development -- and I'm producing renderings to demonstrate this -- where you take Columbia Street and build a superstructure attached to the facades on both sides of Columbia Street and put the whole thing under a glass enclosure. Make it a pedestrian mall that comes out to the west to Harrison and runs south all the way to the Convention Center. Punches through the Convention Center onto the property which is a part of Harrison Square, where you have a true first-class hotel, with a natatorium, aqua park, a water-feature theme park attached to it, which could draw people 365 days a year from outside of Fort Wayne for conventions, in support of conventions, and from the immediate region.
Where are the renderings? Were there ever any? Some of us are genuinely interested in seeing the concept - if it exists

Mayoral hopefuls stick to script
Debate reaffirms stands on taxes, smoking, Harrison
The two also sparred on Harrison Square, which includes a Courtyard by Marriott with parking garage, privately developed condominium and retail building and a $30 million city-owned baseball stadium.

Henry said the $120 million public-private venture is already yielding results by attracting investment and downtown residents. Kelty spent almost his whole time on the issue criticizing the “boondoggle” but quickly added that because it’s a done deal, he will work to make it successful, drawing laughs from some of the audience.

A clash of ideas
Debate demonstrates where Henry, Kelty diverge
Kelty also said he would never conduct a deal like Harrison Square, the $125-million-$160-million downtown revitalization project, but would rely on private businesses for economic development. He said the way to reduce property taxes is to spend less by focusing on core government services, and the city should run itself so county residents want to become a part of it rather than forcing them to through annexation.
Henry said he will make sure Harrison Square is done on time and under budget and sees it as a catalyst for the downtown, already bringing results such as the Midtown Crossing condominiums being sold out with a waiting list for the first time since they were built. Henry also said he’d work with developers to have city water and sewer built into new developments and have buyers agree that they might be added to the city in the future.


Jeff Pruitt said...

Would anyone in the private sector be interested in funding a glass dome? Is that a highly profitable enterprise these days?

Joe said...

Kelty: This thing is a boondoggle, blah blah blah I hate it, but its here and I will do everything to make it succeed. Ha, yeah right.

Wendy said...

pro-life = job creation??

John B. Kalb said...

Wendy - Where was pro-life stated as being equal to job creation? I must have missed that. I did hear Kelty say that "being pro-life is about good jobs" - maybe he was saying that working at an abortion-mill is not a "good job". John B. Kalb

Wendy said...

I'm paraphrasing. My brain shut off temporarily when he started talking about being anti-choice in relation to economic development, and I'm not the only one who heard it that way.

John, you must have been pretty happy to hear Kelty use your favorite word last night - boondoggle it up!

Scott said...

What I took away from last nights debate is the Kelty has no clue how to spur economic redevelopment downtown. He keeps using "the market" to bring development. But if we keep using the market for downtown development we will look like Detroit.

The market isn't an entity; it is a concept or a collective noun to put in the place of people buying and selling goods and services. But the market can be manipulated and that manipulation is the job of government. It is to proved a economic climate so businesses can thrive. You do this by your tax policy, land use policy, and city ordinances to name a few. But if you let the status quo continue (as Kelty would) there will be no new business downtown.

John B. Kalb said...

Non-S Scott: The most significant commercial development of the last 10-15 years in Fort Wayne is Jefferson Pointe. It was driven almost completely by the "market" as evidenced by the complete lack of usage of the TIF fund to provide any required infrastructure except enlarging the sewers. All other improvements were accomplished using the developer's funds.
Maybe I'm an old fart - but it sure sounds like total socialism when you make a statement like,"the manipulation of the market is the job of government". I don't believe that many US citizens would agree with a manifesto like that!
And I am in full agreement that government's use of tax policy, land use policy and a FEW city ordinances does enable the creation of an economic climate so that private business can thrive - BUT NOT TO FUND UNECONOMICALLY SOUND PROJECTS LIKE HS that are possible only because they are largely financed by public tax dollars - AND WOULD NOT FLY WITHOUT THIS UNDERPINNING!
John B. Kalb

Anonymous said...

Just a question -

In the last more than a dozen young people have e-mail me announcing they were leaving the area. (Two were moving to Georgia, one was moving to New York, one was moving to Alabama, two were moving to Virginia, one was moving to China, one was moving to Indianapolis, one was moving to the middle-of-nowhere-Wyoming, two were moving to Haiti, and one was moving to Chicago.) They did not leave Indiana because of the tax-structure, weather or politics, they left for jobs! I can't image they would have left this fine town, if there is going to be a fabolous baseball stadium coming? I guess they didn't want to be a hot dog vendor!

Anonymous said...

And why is it Fort Wayne has no attractive jobs for graduates?

John B. Kalb said...

Anonymous at 5:01 on 10/24/07: See post by Mitch Harper on www. fortwayneobserved.com about one who left Fort Wayne for a year and has returned. John B. Kalb

Scott said...

I must say John, that one person who returned sure is representative. I mean it's amazing that one went out and came back in comparison with the hundreds that leave and don't return. By the way, I am one of those that is thinking about leaving - to France or Ireland.

Tom P said...


Have a safe trip

John B. Kalb said...

Non-S Scott - I also wish you Godspeed on your trip. Wow, Fort Wayne is so bad that you are leaving our country? To the land of the IRA or to a county that leans toward communism. You must really have a problem - hope you get it out of your system on your sabbatical. I'll bet that you return when you see what the rest of the world is really like. John B. Kalb

Andy said...

John -

"when you see what the rest of the world is really like"

I suspect your comment was said out of arrogance and fear that there might be other cultures and/or countries who may have different, and quite possibly better ways of doing things, than we as Americans do.
If so, this is precisely the type of comment and mind-frame that I find disturbing. Lumping all of the countries and people in the world into an "us vs. them" mentallity only succeeds in dividing people and cultures further apart.

Luke said...


Really? Scott says that he would like to experience something outside of Fort Wayne and you bring up the IRA? That’s like me saying “watch out for Indiana, they have some KKK there.” Pretty ridiculous statement.

Also, France…. Communist? Last time I checked (or was there for that matter) France was a republic with a tripartite government. The president of the country is actually considered to be far right (respectively). Or maybe it’s just that anything left of JBK is communist? It seems to me my blog friend, that you are the one that needs to get out more.

John, I have traveled and lived all over this world and have returned to Fort Wayne, the city of my birth. I think I have a fairly good idea what the rest of the world is like. But I’m afraid to tell you that there is no amount of travel that has made me come around to your line of thinking.


Anonymous said...

I am not a "regular" on the blogs; however, your hatred is evident and quite alarming, Mr. Kalb. I 've had the opportunity to live throughout the US and abroad. I reassure you, Mr. Kalb, I have found wonderful people living in respectable countries.

I caution your commentary... They are the same thoughts and words that cause hate, fear, distrust and war. Although you may feel differently, our generation is hoping for something more.

Anonymous said...

Straight out of the 50's...

Lets get those red commies!

This attitude is what was wrong about the 50's. Not all French people are communists, and not all Irish people are IRA. How ignorant!

Anonymous said...

I have to attest to the fact that college graduates are leaving this town, and this state, at an alarming rate. I just had my ten year class reunion and less than 30% of my high school class still lives in Fort Wayne. On top of that, only about 10% of the people that I went to college with from Fort Wayne, have returned. Most are gone to California, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. The brain drain is very real and if the trends continue I will be have to follow them...