15 March 2009

Even Side 1500 Race Street

(mistake in title, this is the 1400 block)  


Randy Simes said...

I was told the streets that the streetcar is planned to run on are already redeveloped. What gives?

CityKin said...

I thought it was nice how the sun was hitting this whole block.

Mark Miller said...

Since you brought it up Randy, this is actually the even side of the 1400 block of Race street. If you click the photo to zoom in, you can read the street sign (nice camera Mike).

The east side of Race between 14th and 15th streets contains 12 addresses, ALL of which are owned by OTR Holdings, Inc. a shell corporation of 3CDC. You can read about pending development of some of them here and here. Or read about their acquisition here.

None of the properties shown have any active permits, although a few have expired VBMLs. Why isn't 3CDC following the same rules as everybody else? VBML is getting way too arbitrary and capricious to be taken seriously.

The point is that EVERYTHING pictured is already in the redevelopment pipeline. And incidently, they are ALL also already TIFed up for the next 30 years to fund that redevelopment.

That's one of the reasons the streetcar is so light on TIF funding. The proposed route only connects dots that are already done or underway. If you're serious about streetcars being an engine of economic development, then run it through areas that are currently off the radar. You know, the ones that REALLY NEED THE HELP.

Randy Simes said...

You know as well as anyone Mark that just because there are development plans doesn't necessarily mean that they can work given market conditions.

The reality is that nothing has happened with these properties yet and probably won't until a couple of things happen. They have little access to parking, so that means either demolition will be needed in one of the nation's largest historic districts which is obviously not at all desirable - or the need for parking is reduced.

The new underground garage at Washington Park will help with this, but in the end the reduced need for automobile parking in this neighborhood built before automobiles were even a thought is going to need to be the solution...and guess what, the streetcar is just that.

The streetcar makes projects that 3CDC, the Brewery District, Findlay Market District and Main Street more economically feasible by making market conditions more favorable.

If the problem is parking and we can't create more parking without astronomically raising the prices on the units, then the answer is to reduce the need for cars in that area. It's market reality.

Mark Miller said...

So are you saying, Randy, that our political leaders gave 3CDC a free 30 year funding stream before they had all the elements of the deal worked out?!?

Such fiscal recklessness is "Exhibit A" in the case for putting mamoth capital funding proposals to a public vote.

Randy Simes said...

That's not what I'm saying at all, but nice try.

No one can predict with 100% certainty how the market will unfold in the future. This is standard with any project. If you don't have some sort of financial backing then projects are a no go from the beginning. As a result public entities often offer this financial support to help leverage additional dollars for the investors from banks and what not. Once again, you know this.

What happened in the case of 3CDC is unique in that there were several large property owners in OTR that were defunct. There properties went up for sale and 3CDC seized up as many properties as possible.

Now lets say 3CDC goes ahead and completes these projects prior to the streetcar. Will the units be successful? How many units of City Home have sold so far with their dedicated 1-car garage? Just because you complete a project physically doesn't mean that it is a success in the end. The units have to sell (or be rented) and be occupied.

Mark Miller said...

If the streetcar is the keystone which is critical to the success of these developments, then it should rightfully receive the full TIF credit. Do that throughout the route, and you won't have to beg taxpayers in Sayler Park, Madisonville, Roselawn, etc. for funding.

Why are we giving away tax money on projects that are so iffy without a streetcar?

Randy Simes said...

Well no one is "begging" for taxpayer dollars in those neighborhoods. The city money being used is Capital Budget money. Part of the Capital Budget does indeed come from property taxes. Roughly 35% of the Capital Budget is made up from Property Tax Supported Bonds. What this means is that the City gets bond money that is paid back over time through property taxes. This is quite common as it comes to long-term debt for municipal governments. Primarily used for capital projects...like the streetcar.

The rest of the City's Capital Budget is made up from other resources not tied to property taxes at all. Although there are some income tax supported debt as well. Once again, quite standard when it comes to any capital project...like the streetcar (remember when you referred to the streetcar as a good example of a capital project on Explore Cincinnati?).

I feel like I keep stating things that you should already know. You know how the Capital Budget is supported, yet you continue to make bombastic claims about how the City is somehow stealing tax dollars away from some neighborhoods for others. The Capital Budget works for all neighborhoods. Mt. Washington residents pay via property-tax supported debt for street repavings in Westwood. Price Hills residents do the same for streetscaping in Walnut Hills.

You make the whole situation out to be something it's not. Quit trying to fool people and lets actually debate the issues of the streetcar instead of trying to surround it with a cloud of doubt that is intended to do nothing more than confuse people. You're better than that.

Jim Uber said...

I just have a question of clarification for Mark. You state "And incidently, they are ALL also already TIFed up for the next 30 years to fund that redevelopment."

My understanding is that TIF funds (which of course are generated only after the property value improvements are realized) must go to a specific public infrastructure project. Which specific project are these buildings TIF funds designated to support? Or, please clear up my misunderstanding.

Mark Miller said...


True, nobody is begging for dollars, city leaders are just taking them instead; an injustice the petition drive is designed to correct.

If you've studied the budget, you know that anything bond-backed is part of the "restricted funds" budget, and can only be used for its stated purpose (i.e. not a streetcar). Of course there are many other restricted budgets, and a few unrestricted capital budgets too. But even together they aren't enough to cover the massive streetcar expenditure. Which is why Mallory has resorted to selling off city assets and raiding neighborhood improvement funds. It's building quite a lot of hostility, which is totally unnecessary.

If the route would simply connect areas which aren't already TIFed to the hilt, the streetcar could be funded by the very properties which stand to benefit from it.


You are correct. TIF funds are restricted to a specific public purpose. In this case, that is the redevelopment of the specific property parcels that the TIF abatement is attached to. Ordinarily taxing entities would reasonably expect the investment to be made within a year or so of the award, but 3CDC is pushing that to half a decade in some cases.

Randy Simes said...

The position you're taking of tax dollars should only be spent in the immediate area in which they're generated is a dangerous proposition and would be disastrous for the very neighborhoods you are claiming to defend in this instance.

Most city neighborhoods contribute a very small portion to the City's overall budget. Residential property taxes may seem high to individual property owners, but individually they don't amount to much. Furthermore, residential properties are known to be net losers when it comes to budgetary operations. They demand significantly more services than they fund. On the other hand, commercial and industrial uses lean in the other direction and balance things out...paying more taxes than the services they demand.

In Cincinnati the majority of the taxes are generated in two relatively small geographic areas - Uptown and Downtown. If we were to follow your method of allocating tax dollars then neighborhoods like Sedamsville, Mt. Washington, Lower Price Hill, Oakley, etc would be left out in the cold as all the money would be going back into Uptown and Downtown neighborhoods.

As for your routing comment, it would be a severely flawed strategy to choose a route based on TIF resources alone. The idea is to best compliment existing "dots" with potential "dots." This helps with the two-fold impact of streetcars that is both transportation and economic development related. Just like when operating a business or your personal finances...you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket.

CityKin said...

Yes Mark, most of what is in this photo is owned by 3CDC. However this is just one block of OTR. The 1600-1800 blocks north of this as well as many other blocks in the vicinity are also substantially vacant. Most do not have redevelopment plans and have been vacant for many years. And it is not just the vacant buildings, but the myriad of vacant lots along the proposed streetcar route.