PS: Before you trash the city's ability to develop big projects, you should check into all the HOPE VI projects that transformed those areas. No one in Memphis has done more successful projects than City of Memphis HCD.
BP: The city isn't acting as developer. It's hiring a developer just like it was doing with Mr. Turley until they couldn't agree on what percentage he should receive commensurate to risk. Also, this wasn't Mr. Turley's idea. He refined the idea that was produced by a city's committee that was created in 2004 by city and county mayors. It set out the first mixed-use sports center concept.
PS: the retail won't be driven by area retail. The $8 billion sports tourism (that's what it's called) grew 10% in events and revenues in the most recent year and for cities the size of ours, 60% of the tournaments/events came from outside the region. That's the beauty of it. It brings in new people to spend money, and like Indianapolis, it creates an entirely new economic sector.
BP: The plan calls for a 120,000 anchor store and for the rest to be smaller stores with an emphasis on locally-owned ones. Actually, the leaders are offering up something that competes with Indianapolis and Orlando as amateur sports centers and that feels like a step in the right direction.
Actually, more than 80% of the revenues for the project are generated from the project on the redeveloped Fairgrounds. And the TDZ will repay City of Memphis for the $37 million costs of Tiger Lane, ADA improvements to the stadium, and new lights, sound, turf, and painting of the stadium. Without TDZ, Memphians will pay $2.4 million a year in debt service for these. It seems like it's cutting off your nose to spite your face not to take advantage of $180 million in state money to get into the $8 billion amateur sports economy and upgrade the Fairgrounds into something that creates jobs and expands the economy.
Remember: the TDZ returns the incremental increase in state sales taxes from a specific date set in Nashville. For that reason, Cooper-Young is largely irrelevant in to the TDZ because its sales tax base is pretty much set and it isn't witnessing some big upswing in sales taxes.
Taxpayers of Memphis can't be left holding the bag. These are revenue bonds so the only risk is to the bondholders. And best of all, the debt isn't city debt so Memphis taxpayers are not at risk and it doesn't add a dime to the city's bonded indebtedness.
At this point, no one knows what the retail development will look like because before the city can send out RFPs for a developer, it has to have the financing in place. The final product will depend on the response of developers, so why not take a wait and see attitude before all the gloom and doom?
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By Leonard Gill
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