To the editor:
“The developer behind the ambitious retail project Adams Dairy Landing has asked the city to consider backing bonds for street improvements within and surrounding the project.”
We agree, that’s what the developer was communicating. But that certainly appears to be future tense. I want to add some thoughts.
In February 2007, the city committed to paying for the road improvements with new TDD sales taxes. The credit to build the roads has already been provided once by Hillcrest Bank and the road improvements are 95 percent complete. How many times can we commit funds, provide credit and build the same roads?
Developers/businesses are required to provide road improvements for their projects before business permits are issued. The city aided this developer with a TIF, TDD, CID & Super TIF tax revenues (plus an additional 1 cent CID sales tax backstop). In reality, the roads have committed funds, credit has been provided and the improvements are almost complete. What’s needed on the project are parking lots, lighting, utilities, interior roads, etc. I think it’s developer spin to imply backing of the bonds is for street improvements. Why can’t we just say the national economy has impacted the project and more credit is needed to put in the parking lots, etc.?
The citizens of Blue Springs aren’t at risk now. They’ve not co-signed any loans like residents of Kansas City and Independence.
What this really comes down to is the developers profit vs. taxpayer risk. The developer wants the city to co-sign the loan using our good credit rating to get a low-interest loan. If the city doesn’t co-sign, the developer will have to pay a higher interest rate, which will impact developer’s profit. The developer has signed leases that require he delivers pad sites with parking lots, utilities, etc. The developer isn’t going to let those signed tenants just walk away.
Don’t get me wrong. RED is one of the leading developers in the metro. I want them to conduct business, and I know the objective of business is to make money. At the same time, citizens shouldn’t be exposed to developer risk. If we’re going to bail out this developer’s profit margin, don’t we need to bail out Woods Chapel developers, Chapman Farms developers, Lake Ridge Village developers, etc.? How about the Southridge retail strip built – 55,000 square feet that as sat empty for six months? Is backing retail business the best use of taxpayer credit right now? When we can’t even give our employees a raise?
Ron Fowler is a Blue Springs City Council member.