Friday, April 20, 2007

My ideas for improving Downtown Fort Wayne

Change Fort Wayne, a funny and sarcastic local blog, has been defending the Harrison Square Project as being the only possible thing that can benefit Fort Wayne and spends a lot of time making fun of me. I enjoy their blog quite a bit.

I have decided to post another list of things that I think should be done to help improve Downtown Fort Wayne.

I hope that all of the Supporters of Harrison Square take the time to do the same thing. Some of these ideas are not very Libertarian; however, since I know we are going to keep pouring hundreds of millions of public dollars into Downtown I want to see that money not wasted:

1. I think we should build a casino in Downtown Fort Wayne. That will draw people from at least a 60 mile radius.

2. I think we should stop building strip malls at the edges of Fort Wayne. Everytime we build a new strip mall new businesses move into the new strip mall from their old locations. Fort Wayne has way too much commerical property and can only support so much retail space. I am actually looking to buy or build commercial property in Fort Wayne. We have thousands of commercial locations available; yet, we are still building more and building them on the edges of the City.

3. I think Fort Wayne should have done more to prevent Parkview from moving north of Fort Wayne. I would guess that as many as 80% of the medical businesses surrounding Parkview on State will move north in the next few years. Imagine what is going to happen to that part of town.

4. I think Fort Wayne should meet with every local college and univeristy in this area and should attempt to convince them to offer more advanced degrees in Fort Wayne. There are several advanced degrees that are offered by multiple colleges in the Fort Wayne area. Possibly we could "plan" and offer more different advanced degrees.

5. I would like to see Fort Wayne do more to help small business owners succeed in Fort Wayne. I think that Personal Property Taxes should be eliminated for small business owners entirely.

6. I think the Sheriff should be located Downtown.

7. I think that the City Planning Department needs to stop allowing developers to build anything they want on the edges of Fort Wayne. I think that The City Planning Department should limit development at the edges of Fort Wayne, this would ensure that developers spend more time "in-filling" our core.

8. I think the City should consider offering small public subsidies to build new projects Downtown. I do not want to see the City put up 50% of the project costs; however, I would support the City subsidizing some of the following projects Downtown:a. An olympic swimming pool.b. A pedestrian bar and restaurant district.c. There are many other projects that might work.

9. I think that we need to encourage small businesses to relocate Downtown. We currently subsidize a large number of small businesses at the NIIC center. I would like to see Fort Wayne stop giving so much in subsidies to large businesses and start to funnel a lot more of it to small businesses. This could be done by helping small businesses locate property Downtown and by streamlining the permit process.

10. I think we need to eliminate wasteful Government spending and lower the taxes on both business owners and residents. This will leave residents and business owners with more money that will be spent in the local economy.

11. Fort Wayne Government needs to stop hiring outside consultants for every little thing. We have plenty of competant people in Fort Wayne and we need to keep our money in this area. Imagine how good it would be for local businesses if Fort Wayne gave a preference to local businesses!

Please let me know what your ideas are to improve Downtown and what you think of mine.

I have a feeling that Change Fort Wayne will post a list including:

1. Build a new minor league Baseball Stadium Downtown because that is what young professionals want.

2. Build a new Parking Garage Downtown to help encourage people to walk around a more pedestrian Downtown.

3. Build high end condominiums downtown for all of the young professionals to live in. They all have at least $200,000 to spend on 1000 square foot condos and would love to spend that money next to a ballpark that has a sinlge A baseball team playing in it.

I am looking forward to hearing your response.

Mike Sylvester

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I know you are a very smart guy, so I am always puzzlled at your condo and casino comments.

1. The casino recomendation is a red herring because the opposition would make the opposition to H. Square look minimal. You know this is not even a possibility.

2. Do you think that Hardball is so foolish that they are willing to let their millions in the condos get flushed down the drain?. Do you think they have forgotten to do the most basic studies of demand in the market place.

Mike, give the guys a little credit. They do make their living developing.

Sam T.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam:

I know there would be a lot of resistance to a casino. I think it is the best project for Downtown.

I actually think there is a good chance the the first 60 condos will
succeed. I have talked to three Fort Wayne Realtors and all think that there is demand to sell 60. More then that all three of them were very unsure about.

I think that building 60 is a good idea. After we see how those 60 sell then we could consider building more...

Mike Sylvester

Barney Fife said...

For the record Mike, the Sheriff and his administrative staff maintain their offices downtown.

Allen County Sheriff
715 S. Calhoun St
Room 101 Courthouse
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802

I know that's not the entire dept. just pointing it out.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam:

Another thing is that you and I both know that the majority of residents oppose moving our baseball stadium downtown. This is obvious from the polls and from talking to Fort Wayne residents; however, this has not caused your outspoken support for the project to waver at all. You support the project and think it would improve Downtown and you are going to vote for the project because you feel that it is a project that should move forward. I disagree with your opinion; however, I respect you for sticking to your guns.

Surely you do not expect that I would drop support of a Downtown casino due to some opposition do you?

I hope not...

I am in favor of a downtown casino and I would support it fully.

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous said...

Mike, you are correct. Good point regarding casino. I was just pointing out that I think we both know that its a non-starter in this community.

I have never disagreed with you that a majority oppose. I think we disagree on how large of majority. I know that people tend to gravitate to those who share their view, but I do want to state that the emails, phone calls, and letters I have personally received on H. Square are overwhelmingly in support of the project (5 to 1). Does this mean that a majority support, absolutely not, however it does render ridiculous the statements of certain councilmembers who continue to harp that NOBODY supports this.

Sam T.

Robert Enders said...

1. If Hardball knows that the condos will be a success, they should go ahead and build them without the public funds. If they have a sound financial plan in place, they can show their plan to investors and lenders and raise the money that way. If time was as big a factor as Sam T and Pape say it is, then Hardball could get the money quicker from private sources than they could from the city.

2. Downtown Fort Wayne is already patroled by the FWPD, and they do a good job. I fail to see how moving more of the Sheriff's Department downtown is going to help.

3. Mike, please define "small business" before you propose handing out checks to small busniness people. How many employees, how much in assets, etc. My guess is that every store and restaurant in FW will become "independently owned and operated" and thus qualify as a small business.

4. There is more to Fort Wayne than just downtown. A job is a job and a business is a business, no matter where in Fort Wayne or Allen County they choose to locate. The strip malls don't bother me at all. Somebody wants to build here without being offered subsidies.

Anonymous said...

How can they say nobody supports it when the poll taken by Fort Wayne Newspapers clearly stated that 29% do?

:)

LP Mike Sylvester said...

It is not fair to say that no one supports the project.

I think that quite a few people support the project as it stands today. I do not know exactly how many, I might guess one third of the citizens support the project as is; but, I do not know.

I know Councilman Didier told me that he has went out and knocked on random doors and when he has done that 7 people oppose the project for every three who support the project. His random "door knocking" is not scientific either...

I also think it is interesting that so many large business leaders support the project. Many of the people who support the project are very sharp and many are people that I respect.

Mike Sylvester

Change Fort Wayne said...

Yo Mikey - a response is coming I promise - working hard, you know.

Tim Zank said...

Mike point by point:

1. I love the Casino idea.
2. Shutting down development of strip malls will not force them to develop downtown.
3. Parkview has outgrown it campus, if they stay on State Street you'll have eminent domain issues out the wazoo.
4. That's a good idea.
5. I agree with that as well.
6. Sheriff downtown is duplicitous.
City cops are all over it.
7. See # 2
8. Tax abatements etc...ok...
9. What kind of small businesses do you mean? Sixty yuppies in condos won't support a lawn & garden shop or a movie theater.(just examples)
10. BIG BIG agreement on this!
11. I concur...it's government waste at it's finest...great for consultants though...

Anonymous said...

Mike, even Kelty's poll of die hard republicans showed only 56% opposition.

Parson said...

How about a baseball stadium and a casino? Baseball stadium is more for the people that already live here and to keep them here. A casino would bring in people just to visit for a day or 2. I think people still believe too much in casinos are ran by the mob and all kinds of new crime will come with it.

Robert Enders said...

President Bush has a higher approval rating than Harrison Square.

Vulgrin said...

I posted my comments to both of you over on CFW's site. So look for them there. But, I agree with your casino thing, and to answer someone else here about the opposition my two responses are:

If its not Fort Wayne - it'll be someone else. Just like it's been someone else up until now. Why shouldn't we get our taste of this money?

and

If you live in Nevada, you don't pay any state income tax because of the gaming revenue. FWCS wants a billion dollars? Here's a great way to raise it. Why raise local taxes when we can give out of towners a great entertainment experience and let THEM pay for our schools?

Vulgrin said...

Oh, and to preempt the obvious opposition to the casino idea:

Don't go bible thumping on this one. If we want to claim that gambling is a sin, then oust the state lottery from Fort Wayne and shut down every single Church Bingo.

If we can't have a casino to fund commerce and development in Fort Wayne because it will damage our morality, then I suggest we get the money by taxing all of the property owned by organized religion in the county to make up for part of the opportunity loss.

Robert Enders said...

My guess is that business leaders support HS because they expect to get their share of the honey pot in due time, just as you could expect corn farmers to support additional subsidies to dairy farmers.