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$10 MILLION--FOR WHAT?

Local financing.

 


 

This posting is evidence of my sustained interest in what is happening in my community of Shorewood. I'm here, at least for the moment, turning from national to local financing, namely, to the use of Tax Increment Financing for purposes of increasing property tax revenue in the distant future.


 

The (TIF) procedure has a certain apparent magic attached to it as it is intended to increase future revenues for Shorewood based on present investment in future values. Property development has certain dangers integrated in it, especially when dealing with its long term future values. Long term inflation doesn't always help.


 

We have one example of a defaulted project on Capitol and the river's edge here in Shorewood. Most of us have no idea of its status and what is going to happen to it regarding how its future development will affect Shorewood in a number of ways, even if one way may not be a financial loss to the community.


 

I've been involved in city planning processes here and abroad where similar techniques for development and redevelopment have be utilized. My interest in Shorewood's economic development and my interests in land costs as related to development has led me to updating this knowledge.


 

There have been studies questioning the politics and economics of TIF use, indicating that the application may have had a somewhat slowing affect on development over the long run. It would be interesting if we could find what those factors for slowing down are.


 

My own studies have led me to acknowledge that one of the detractors to development in Shorewood, as in some similar communities is high cost of land. TIF as applied here is meant to subsidize some of these higher costs and aimed at encouraging the development that perhaps would not otherwise take place.


 

There seems to be a lot of criticism aimed at the proposed redevelopment on the west side of Oakland Avenue, north of Capitol regarding the relocation of Walgreen's drug store to the south of its existing location. This would include parking structure and six stories of apartments and a $10 million subsidy.


 

As much of TIF stuff takes place in confidence, not much is public until it becomes convenient and the sudden announcement in itself in most cases causes an immediate reaction. The $10 million got some attention as well. I haven't been present where plans may have been shown. So the plans are quite new.


 

As this is an area that is going to experience a great deal of change in our community, it may be a good idea to go into detailed presentations several times to get reactions and for the citizens to understand what is going on. “So there you have it,” is not going to receive a terrific response.


 

There are going to be other general questions in the future as to why TIF, who decides and how certain justifications are come by. How much is rubber stamping, how much innovative thinking and how much questioning in the community's interest. How is currying favor avoided?


 

My general question would be, is the total development of about two blocks, taking into consideration in its design the idea of the “social street” or is the tax revenue the whole or dominating object of the exercise? 

 

 

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