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27th October
2010
written by madge

The entire redevelopment mess is a case of:
1. Elected officials that have no idea what they are doing. The Gaylord Resorts people left town (and built in Mesa) for a number of reasons including a provision that required only union labor to operate the hotel, sort of makes you wonder what else is coming out of the woodwork.
2. An original 4 person puppet Rio Nuevo board put in place to rubber stamp.
3. Too many cooks in the kitchen. We’ve now had our 3rd City manager in charge of Rio Nuevo. Each has their own vision.
4. A weak mayor political system that puts tremendous power in council peoples hands. There are 3 council members that have claim to Rio Nuevo and each wanted their piece of the pie. Meanwhile we have a number of dirt lots, plans on top of plans that never got done. Drive west of the freeway and you’ll see how politicians can squander an opportunity.
5. We missed the real estate boom because our process to build (development services and neighborhood input) is so bad it takes forever to get anything done.
6. A business community that is very fractured and weak and can’t come to agreement on anything.
7. A couple election cycles with hotly contested races, including the election of Steve K where an R won in a city with 3 to 1 D’s.
8. An economic downturn that slowed the TIF dollars considerably. Walmart to the rescue!
9. Our largest tourism attraction is the Gem and Mineral show. It brings in $100m per year. The mayor is now saying the gem show will pull out if we don’t build the hotel. Tucson has and will continue to be on their trade show circuit. They like the funky tents and hodge podge of the way Tucson is laid out for them. 
10. Our MTCVB has little accountability. Giving them a shiny new hotel should scares the crap out of you. The TCC staff is just shy of inept. The Hilton talked about building their hotel and managing the Tucson Convention center. City Council blocked their plan because it would mean laying off TCC employees. We lost $3m last year on the convention center. Makes you want to give the job of selling this thing to this team doesn’t it.
11. Overbuilt, utlra-competitive convention market. Phoenix is offering 45% off convention bookings thru 2014. Markets around the country have built convention facilities only to find that the size of the market is shrinking as more convention space is coming on line. Classic supply demand issues. With Phoenix investing $650m in their convention center and building a 1000 room convention hotel facility how are we ever going to compete?  If a convention is comparing Tucson to Phoenix they’ll look at cost, size, availability, air transportation, attraction’s downtown (restaurants, sport venues, museums etc). We loose on all accounts.
12. Powerful neighborhood associations that allow a couple of crazy ideas like; entire floors dedicated to low income housing, use of a new buildings pools and laundry facilities and requests for community herb gardens as a condition to blessing a development. Those developers that are unlucky enough to have not high tailed out of town are wishing they had, or looking for a politician to donate to.
13. Crazy development agreement terms like giving a $300,000 to a youth facility 5 blocks away from your development as a condition of zoning approval scares sophisticated developers away.
14. Hook ups to a selected few while others are drug through the maze of bureaucracy. Going $15m over budget on an underpass to accommodate a preferred developer or free rent, rent extensions and law breaking gifts to preferred, politically connected people at the expense of others without political clout.
15. Cheap land on the outskirts of our community. Why would someone pay $300,000 for a two bedroom condo when you can pay the same for a three bedroom home with a pool. Quaint, cute, artsy and urban are great but when the decision comes, residents can get so much more for their money away from the city core. Downtown’s died for a reason.  Downtown are working when their is expensive land that is locked in, typically near water.  Downtown’s work when their is night life and private sector jobs. We have neither.

It’s over, move on and get back to the basics. Set the table for the private sector and focus on reopening the community pools, trimming the weeds in the median and protecting your citizens.

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