Friday, November 30, 2007

Harrison Square: Now What?

Harrison Square supporters are encouraging the rest of us to support the project. But it's their baby, let them raise it. If the project is as good as they say it is, it does not need our help because it will attract new residents, business, and tourism. If the project is as bad as I think it is, it will fail no matter what we do.

A likely scenario is that after opening day at the ballpark, we see a huge photo of a large crowd on the front page of the Journal Gazette. The editorial page will proclaim Harrison Square to be a success. A few years after that we'll have a bunch of shiny, empty buildings and people scratching their heads and wondering why.

I'm still optimistic that Fort Wayne will continue to grow and prosper in spite of what happens downtown. The Harvester neighborhood has stagnated for the past 25 years, yet the rest of the city continues to thrive.

But I refuse to accept responsibility for what happens downtown. You all were warned.


Bartleby said...

Well, Mr. Enders, I "spent a lot of time" looking for common ground ... no, wait, I didn't spend any time at all. A minute, maybe, before finding it. I completely agree with your main point here. I don't know how many rockheads I've seen write, "Well, it's a done deal now, now it's up to us to make sure it succeeds." Well, no it isn't, either. First, it's quite outside my power or ability to make this pig sing, even if I wanted it to; and, secondly, I don't enjoy pig music. I hope it's a flop of colossal proportions. To darkest and hottest Hell with Hardball Capital, the J-G, and all the jobbing local politicos who rammed this thing through.

Templeton Peck said...

Yes, but Bartleby, if it does fail somehow they'll blame you!!

J Q Taxpayer said...

I feel the double cross in my head. I know it is going to fail to some degree. I am just hoping it is not a nightmare of failure.

The trick will be to ever figure out how much a failure it is. With so many parts to the project and money coming from from several areas a person would need an accounting firm watching full time.

What I found interesting today is hearing Mayor Richard refer to the project as $160 million. There was no mention of the $125 number. So the high end looks like the real end.

Also the cut back, that none of us will notice, that has already been made to the ballpark. Gosh, they have not even started getting steel prices and we are in deep crap.

I am starting to wonder if this is going to be a $195-190 million project.

Plus over the course of the next year the start of the roll out for the redevelop of Indiana Hotel will be making its way to center stage. Maybe sooner.

Of course we will more then likely have the OmniSource property we can all park at and walk to the ball games. Oh, that is right it will be fenced off because of the problems with the soil. Darn

david said...

Well, I hope with all the doom and gloom cast by many on the project the following headline is of some interest:

"Just eight hours after doors opened for reservations on the Harrison Square condominiums, 31 people had rushed to secure their place in the development."

That's half of the condo's reserved in one day.

Robert Enders said...

I figured the condos would get filled fast. There are a few who are willing to put their money where their mouth is. You still need to have the retail, the ballpark, and the hotel succeed.

gadfly said...

The insanity of it all begins and ends with spending almost $2M to keep a few convention goers out of the weather.

Anyone who chooses to go up one level and walk three times as far to get between the new Marriott hotel and the Grand Wayne most likely would be better off staying at the attached Hilton.

Oh, excuse me, I forgot that logic has nothing to do with this boondoggle.

barranda said...

Many of you guys sound like the kid on the playground losing his ballgame: "I'm taking my ball and going home."

You are more interested in saying "I told you so" than seeing Fort Wayne prosper. The irony is that the failure of the project might create a bigger tax burden on citizens. But you'd rather see the project fail than show an ounce of support for the project.

I guess that mentality is your party m.o. Your "successful" 2007 election likely resulted in the ousting of candidates that were more fiscally conservative than their counterparts. The hypocrisy is certainly intriguing.

Templeton Peck said...

It's a shame that Barranda labels this "hypocrisy." If you don't like the project, you have the right not to support it. (I don't mind it and am looking forward to going to a few games). That is certianly not hypocrisy. The threat of increased tax burdens didn't stop the project from going through, so conversely why would it stop people from not supporting it?

Please tell me who these fiscally conservative politicians were who were voted off. They must have been working under deep cover. This last City Council never met a government ordinance or program they didn't like, Republican or Democrat.

Phil Marx said...


I have a better analogy. A bunch of kids were playing and one of them said he'd like to change the rules of the game. The others agreed to listen to his ideas, but it quickly became apparent that he really didn't want to give a full explanation because he was making it up as he went along.. A majority of the kids decided that they don't like his proposal.

The other kid took the ball, announced that "Either your going to play my game, or you can leave the playground." Now, this bully has the ball and he is wondering why others won't play with him - except, of course, the other bullies.

Now that the bullies rule the playground, the place has run amuck. Essentially, there are no rules. So, if you find the tax abatements for Subway, McDonalds, or a single employee at an apartment complex to be unfair, but you supported Harrison Square, all I can say is that you got what you asked for.

Enjoy the game, have fun swimming in the polluted water park, and enjoy that cheeseburger that every citizen of Fort Wayne had to pay $2 for even if they never eat there. But most of all, remember to thank Crawford, Didier, Hayhurst, Hines, Pape and Talarico for the new rules.

Bobby G. said...

I like the way you think, Phil.
(darn if it doesn't sound like "downtown")



barranda said...


I never drew an analogy to the downtown situation, but I like your idea. So I'll play along and make a few changes.

This playground has a longstanding tradition of allowing certain bullies to make decisions as to which games they get to play at the playground. The children must follow the tradition. The playground itself already has some equipment, but by and large the games are played with the equipment provided by the children.

The bullies decide to play a new game. In fact, they decide that kickball is better outside than inside. Of course this requires the use of the majority of the playground space, as well as new bases and waterproof kickballs. A lot of kids ("haters") just want to stay inside. They pout and do everything in their power to change the game, despite the knowing that the bullies get to decide what games to play. Ultimately, the haters still have to go by the tradition of providing the equipment.

The time comes for the playground to select new bullies. Ironically, the haters oust one of the few bullies that really wanted to keep kickball inside.

Rather than try to have a good time, the haters pray for rain and hope that everyone has a bad time. If they could, they'd take their ball and go home. But they can't...they are not allowed.

Phil Marx said...


Councilman Pape said that H.S. was the most open (regarding access to information) project ever. This claim is strongly contradicted by the fact that Mike Sylvester repeatedly had his questions ignored by the city, and that Jeff Pruitt had to file a FOI request to get the Mayor to answer a few simple questions. In addition to this, some council members made it clear that they would vote for H.S. even if a majority of residents were opposed to it. That is why I feel the term “bullies” adequately applies to the gang of six.

I do not feel that the term “haters” is applicable to the H.S. opponents for two reasons.
First, when H.S. was still an open political issue, many opponents were very active, speaking at City Council meetings, and actively working with others to try and stop this project. Now that it is a done deal, most opponents have resigned themselves to accepting the inevitable. But this doesn’t mean we should stop talking about the mistakes that were made. These discussions might help us to figure out a way to stop the next boondoggle that comes along.

Second, if you are going to replace one’s predictions of failure with a claim that they are wishing for failure, then the same standard should be applied to H.S. supporters. Any one who said “If you don’t approve this project, the city will fail.” should also be labeled a hater. Since that seemed to be the main justification from H.S. supporters, I guess they are all a bunch of haters.

Many of us are simply saying “You’ve got the field now, do what you want with it, but don’t expect us to be there to cheer you on.” As Robert said, It’s your baby. Don’t get mad at us for not wanting to baby sit.

Phil Marx said...

Well, there is one more thing that we would like. Now that H.S. has been approved, we'd like the City to quit raising the cost of this project and its corolaries. Wait, that's right, they never really did put a price tag on this project. I guess when the stated cost was "none of your business", they could just spend as much as they like and still be within budget.

barranda said...


"I hope it's a flop of colossal proportions. To darkest and hottest Hell with Hardball Capital, the J-G, and all the jobbing local politicos who rammed this thing through."

I rest my case.

btw, I certainly didn't figure you to be one to take my post so seriously. I can't believe you actually wrote 4 paragraphs because I wrote "haters".

Robert Enders said...

Bartleby typed the quote that you cited. He is the one who hopes that it fails.

Mike Sylvester hopes it somehow even though he doesn't see how it can work.

To me, hope is something that you have when the outcome is in doubt. This project is beyond hope. It will fail if I hope it fails. It will fail if I hope it succeeds. So I have no hopes regarding failure or success of this project.

What I do hope is that we all learn a lession from this. And, yes, if HS somehow succeeds and everything I know about economics turns out to be wrong, then I will have learned something as well.

barranda said...


I'm not sure why you are posting Mike's opinions. He's not part of this discussion thread. I'm sure he would jump in if he wants. Mike has graciously responded to my inquiries regarding his thoughts on downtown economic development. I'm not sure I agree...better yet, I'm quite confident that they won't happen any time soon. Nevertheless, I know where he stands, and I respect that.

However, you throw out the blanket statement, "if HS somehow succeeds and everything I know about economics turns out to be wrong, then I will have learned something as well." Please indulge me with your economic theory that seals the fate of this project as "beyond hope." Alternatively, you can shoot me an email if you don't want to post your thoughts; and we can do an off line discussion. Either are acceptable to me. That said, this is your blog and your thread, so perhaps your readers would be interested as well.

Robert Enders said...

The addition of a new hotel to downtown is the worst aspect of this project. Demand for Fort Wayne hotel rooms is low, while the supply is high. This situation is not helped by adding more supply.

The same applies to the condoes. Adding more residential units to a city with a lot of vacant houses contributes to declining property values. While supporter will claim that filling up every condo means the project is working, the fact is that every occupied condo means another vacancy somewhere else in the city. The condos are a net drain on the city.

Sports are a form of entertainment. The entertainment industry is the least essential industry, and is therefore the least deserving of subsidies. Nobody has ever died from boredom. For that matter, we live in an era of YouTube, mySpace, and Playstation, so young people are less likely than ever before to be bored.

The internet is increasing making physical location irrelevant. However, proximity to an interstate highway matters more than proximity to the City-County Building, hence the growth on the outskirts of town. I propose that we be content with that growth and be done with it.

barranda said...


Perhaps you misunderstood my question. Since you brought up your education in economics, I'd like some help identifying what theory you utilize for your bold assertion that the project will fail, and then to expound on that theory.

Your first two paragraphs sound like very basic supply and demand micro principles. However, I don't want to put words in your mouth, so I'll let you confirm that before I ask you about your assumptions that you make on your economic theory.

You second two paragraphs sound more like Ender-omics. Correct me if I'm wrong.

J Q Taxpayer said...

Sucess of HR will not be known for five to seven years down the road. That is from opening date of the hotel and ballpark. Also you have to include Grand Wayne center.

Currently nearly 50% of the income for the GWC is derived from usage. The rest is underwritten by taxpayers.

The hotel will need to stay afloat without Fort Wayne chipping in more money or the filing of BK.

The ball park will have a 2-3 year honeymoon. Then it will be seen what happens. The way the contract is we could end up with a ballpark and no team. Hardball could have a team to move to some other city for their next project.

Once the Condos are built and sold I will pass judgement. A number of the units are going to businesses for use of people visting Fort Wayne for extended periods. Wise investment.

Retail space sucess will depend on how many businesses locate in them and make it past two years.

I think a Show Girls IV could make a good run down town. All those visitors looking for a little wild and crazy nightlight. Forget that last statement. It was made to drive some poeple up the wall.

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