Maybe even shock for our readers. We agree with this week’s IBJ editorial. At least to a point. In light of the failure of the deal for a hotel along side old city hall the paper is suggesting care in selecting a developer’s new architectural proposal.
Our choice would be to be careful about the architect’s ideas, but to leave developers out completely! When the situation was first announced, we sent an email to the councilor for the district in which the property lies. We asked him if there had ever been any consideration of the use of that site for the proposed "justice center."
Failure to get any response led to another email directed to the mayor’s office, with a copy to the same councilor. With exactly the same success!
The old city hall is a magnificent old stone building under the protection of the "historical" folks. Our proposition would be to put her back into service to the city, renovated as necessary, with new construction on the adjacent surface parking lot for the justice center.
Certainly the geography of the location would be ideal. What appears to be a full quarter of a block of "footprint" for the building would seem to be ample. Maybe not, but we think it ought to have serious consideration. (If an "exercise yard", as seen in movies, is needed, a minimal fence on the roof of a ten or twelve story building would seem to be adequate!)
Unfortunately, the same issue of the paper carries a story about hotel subsidies and rates of repayment to the city - where there are any. But for us, the most interesting part of this story was in the two final paragraphs, to wit.
"Bonds the city sold to fund its portion of the Conrad (hotel) are backed by revenue from two parking garages:...The city is applying Conrad payments toward an $18 million loan on the city-owned parking garage at 101 N. Illinois St."
If we have this straight, parking garage revenues are paying off bonds issued to subsidize the hotel construction. If or when the hotel decides to make further "payments" - as opposed to current property taxes, which are undoubtedly subject to TIF confiscation - that money will be used to pay for yet another parking garage owned by the city!
Parking revenues are paying off hotel bonds and hotel "payments" are paying off garage bonds. And we just passed a tax increase specifically designed to get people out of the car and onto the bus!
Can we just skip the part where we said we agreed with anything???