By: Diane Benjamin
Alderman Tari junior, Scott Black, was just on WJBC talking about the three hour Executive Session last Monday. It ended in the Giebelhausen downtown plan being killed.
Evidently the discussion could have been held in public. Black wasn’t shy about what was discussed. Since the meeting was held behind closed doors, the voters will never know who said what and why.
Black used the term “shovel ready” over and over. He didn’t mention the underground structures Giebelhausen was leaving behind. Maybe he didn’t read the entire proposal. The project wasn’t killed because the Council figured out the property wasn’t going to be shovel ready.
The reason the plan died is some Council members thought taking out a 20 year bond with no definite plans for the property was too risky. Duh.
Spending your money downtown isn’t dead.
Black would like to see either:
- mixed use buildings (retail on ground floor, apartments above – think Normal)
- boutique hotel – around 100 rooms with a conference center
- maybe a skyway to the Coliseum (he thinks the Coliseum benefits from a hotel)
He wants Giebelhausen to come back with a better plan because he thinks Gieb is the only guy that can do this. He has a relationship with the Huff’s and he has a vision, according to Black.
Black never talked about the massive cost to the City for new infrastructure or the cost of really making the property shovel ready.
Scotty brushed off talk about another local hotel negatively affecting current hotels. The downtown Kool-Aid makes the government picking of winners and losers immaterial.
I hear another developer may be interested in downtown. Transferring risks to taxpayers will bring lots of interest. Tari is probably flooded with calls, just not from anyone willing to risk their own money.
Expect more proposals. All will involve borrowing money and hoping it works.
Being on the Council would be so boring if all they did was essential services like roads and public safety. Pretending they are Judy Markowitz is much more fun.
Besides, they can always leave the mess to another Council.