Thursday, March 08, 2007

My take on Downtown Development

I spent some time over at one of our clients today. He is one of the few people I know who thinks the Harrison Square Project is a good idea... He is a Fort Wayne business owner and he is growing his business at a rapid pace. He is EXACTLY the type of business owner that Fort Wayne needs to attract and retain.

He is actually considering buying and renovating a building downtown. He owns a local technology company...

He feels that the only way Fort Wayne will be able to attract and retain business owners like him is with an active Downtown...

He and I actually mostly agree on this issue...

I actually do think that it would be a good idea to develop Downtown Fort Wayne. He thinks we must develop Downtown Fort Wayne as well. We just disagree on how to do that...

I think THE MOST IMPORTANT issue in Fort Wayne is drawing and retaining high paying jobs. Wages in Fort Wayne are 83% of the National average. We need to draw better jobs to Fort Wayne.

Here is how I want to develop Downtown Fort Wayne:

1. I want to make Fort Wayne more business friendly. There are several Fort Wayne businesses that have moved to nearby counties because of the silly regulations that exist in Fort Wayne. The City Government needs to help local businesses rather then create a myriad of regulations for them to deal with...

2. I want my elected officials to actually understand economic development. I am sick and tired of hearing how bringing in another WalMart store is economic development. It is NOT economic development, it is economic re-arrangement. Fort Wayne currently has so much commercial and retail property that much of it sits vacant. Each time we build another new development; an existing development is abandoned...

3. I want to LIMIT development at the edges of Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne is too large and Fort Wayne seems to want to expand to the County lines. I am sick and tired of watching new strip malls being erected at the edges of Fort Wayne. This must stop. We need to make an actual comprehensive plan for this area that makes sense. My wife's Uncle is an Urban planner for the Twin Cities. He teaches college classes in Urban planning. Every time he comes to visit I ask him what he thinks about our Urban Planning. To put it mildly, HE INSISTS that we DO NOT have Urban planning in Fort Wayne. I agree with him...

4. I want to invest public money into projects that will DRAW NEW PEOPLE into Downtown Fort Wayne. There are a lot of projects that I would be willing to invest public money into in Fort Wayne. Every one of those projects will draw people into Fort Wayne that currently DO NOT come to Fort Wayne. Moving our existing baseball stadium into Downtown is economic re-arrangement; it is NOT economic development. The exact same people will come to the games, they will just spend their money in a different part of Fort Wayne. We need to invest in projects that will draw new people into Fort Wayne. PERIOD.

5. We have already spent a ton of money Downtown in recent years. The Grand Wayne Center sits practically empty. We should build projects that will help bring events to The Grand Wayne Center.

6. Why on Earth are we considering putting the Allen County Sheriff in New Haven? The Allen County Sheriff should be located Downtown. They would be closer to the jail they are responsible for and to the Court system they have to interact with. This is a NO BRAINER.

I think that moving our existing baseball stadium Downtown is a really bad idea. I would consider any of the following projects Downtown:
1. A full service casino.
2. A multi-use sports facility. I think that a facility that incorporated ice, basketball, and swimming would be very successful.
3. I think a waterpark MIGHT work.

There are other projects that MIGHT work; however, I think the casino and the multi-use sporting facilities are the best ideas available...

Mike Sylvester

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I strongly agree with your stance on the Harrison Square issue. You make some very good points.

And I would love to see a casino downtown, but I think we all know that the multi-sports center idea would be a lot easier to accomplish. There would be way too many complaints about the moral consequences of a casino.

-Kody T