Yesterday, the Wichita Eagle’s Bill Wilson misses the point in his reporting and blogging on business issues.
In his blog post Seed money for downtown’s future, he wrote this: “The Wichita City Council’s decision to approve tax increment financing for the arena neighborhood’s redevelopment was a welcome vote of confidence in the neighborhood’s future.”
In his news story Arena TIF seen as ‘a vote of confidence’, we read the remarks of Jeff Fluhr, the new president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation: “It’s most definitely a vote of confidence in the future of the neighborhood.”
Tell me, if real estate developers require an incentive to do something, what does that tell us about their level of confidence?
It tells me that they have no confidence. They’d rather invest their capital elsewhere, and they’re doing that. It’s only when the city votes to give them money — and that’s what TIF districts do, contrary to Mr. Wilson’s misinformation — can they be “incentivized” to do what they won’t do with their own money.
The City Council’s vote is more of a “Vote and Hope” 95% of the time they do not have all the information to vote on and many in the Council do not pick up their agenda packets until 1/2 before the meetings on Tuesday.
The thing is that real estate developers do not invest in public streets, sidewalks and lamp posts, because there would be no incentive to do so. Why spend millions of dollars redoing or constructing public streets when you can not get a return on investment for that.