Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Condomillions (another 2 to be exact)

The Courier reports (click here to read the Herald's coverage):
Citing a number of unforeseen circumstances, among them a sharp rise in its construction costs, the developer of a major downtown retail and residential project has asked the city to increase its $9.4 million incentive package by nearly $2 million.
What upsets me is the fact that they're complaining now, after the landmark Spiess building has already been demolished. Why didn't this come to the city council before the demolition? What happened in the past few months that justifies this panhandling now? This can set a nasty precedent. I predict that if the city gives in to RSC's demands, PAR Development--the developer of the River Park Place condos--will soon be asking for its own additional subsidy.

PAR Development made the news on its own today by forcing its earliest buyers to pay 40% more for their condominiums than originally agreed upon. I can easily imagine a situation where a month from now, they bring their pans to the city council, and announce that since raising prices has meant fewer buyers and greater risk that some of their units will go unsold, they require that we chip in another $2M. Otherwise they will walk away. Just like RSC. Both leaving in their wake the rubble of our landmarks.

The Spiess building. The Crocker Theatre. These were the things that made Elgin Elgin. And we threw them away.

And next? The Civic Center.

There's something wrong in city hall.

Whatever may happen with these condo projects, they reveal the risks in our current approach to downtown redevelopment. It's time to think things over.


Blogger Kovas Palubinskas said...

Construction price increases should have been expected and factored in to the original proposal. What is suprising to me is the truthful remark by the CEO Richard Curto, when he wrote in a letter to the city: "As you might imagine, our lender and partners are more than a little concerned over the net increased costs and corresponding decreased profitability." Decreased profits? Those are the risks in development! Perhaps the city should let them walk -- it's better to wait and have a development that puts the city and its citizens first.

2:35 AM  

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