Tuesday, October 30, 2007

From The Debate

During Tuesday night's debate both candidates for Mayor, Tom Henry and Matt Kelty, spoke on Harrison Square and downtown development.

Henry reiterated the fact that Harrison Square is here and that his focus would be to first of all make sure the project is completed on time and if possible under budget. Henry made it a point to say that it was unfortunate to think of Harrison Square as only a baseball stadium, since the development also includes new condominiums, retail space, and a hotel. He said there are inquiries to bring new restaurants, shops, and even a pharmacy into downtown by way of Harrison Square.

Henry noted that Harrison Square can be the foundation for much more downtown development to come. He pointed out that Midtowne Crossing is sold out, West Central homes are selling, and people are asking for the selling prices for condos that haven't even been built yet.

In his rebuttal Henry pointed out that the project has brought in investors willing to put millions of dollars into downtown and that Renaissance Pointe and North River are other projects showing the potential of the downtown area.

Kelty's statement followed along the lines of the previous debate. Kelty once again said he uses Harrison Square as an example of a deal that he would never put together. He says that he is obligated to execute any contracts to the best of his ability and to make sure that "every ounce of value is squeezed from every public dollar spent".

The thing that caught my ear about Kelty's response to the Harrison Square question is that he said he would "vigorously develop the nearby properties".

His response and choice of wording begs the question: "Would Kelty really do all he could to make Harrison Square a success or would he try to piggyback a project of his own off of it?"

Kelty said that the "only real potential" would be to the north of Harrison Square since there are houses to the west of the Harrison Square site.

Yet, according to the Around the Square plan, which was approved, the majority of development potential has been identified as being to the west of Harrison Square.

Has Kelty read the Around the Square plan? Why does he think there is no potential to the west of Harrison Square? Is it just because of the houses? He says that "tearing down more houses may not be the right way to go".

What if those properties adjacent to Harrison Square have already been bought? If a private developer has chosen to buy those properties, raze them, and develop them into something new, wouldn't Kelty applaud such an effort?

It would be a shining example of the private sector seeing potential and acting on it without help from the government - and they wouldn't even need Rocket 1 to make it happen.


Rachel said...


Loved the Rocket 1 reference. I so disappointed that line didn't make a comeback in either debate. It's a real gem.

Scott said...

If Matt Kelty dropped Rocket 1 on Fort Wayne, it would look like a nuclear bomb went off.