Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day

Just a note concerning the results of the election.  The people of this nation have spoken, and what they have said is that they want four more years of the same leadership and policy that they have experienced and that this is the direction that they want our country to proceed.  Although it is not in my DNA to agree with them, it is within my fabric to respect the result.  I wish that there could be more of that type of understanding in our local politics.  So often there is a my way or the highway mentality by the citizens.  This is recently demonstrated by the opinions concerning the smoking ordinance supporters.  It's either no smoking in 100% of the city or you're and idiot.  I realize that there is a lack of understanding and compassion concerning the opposite side of  the aisle, but that is why Washington has failed to become effective in governing our country. 

Last night at the City Council meeting it was demonstrated again.  I asked the realtor representing the Eastern Star Home if he would accept a clause in the contract stating that upon completion of the sale the home would be torn down.  This was the middle ground where a compromise could be reached.  With that being unacceptable the stay of demolition was extended to December 22.  I have a feeling that the status of the Eastern Star Home is not the determining factor of the sale of this property, as much as the price that the bank wants for the land.  That being said, the process will run it's course and I am positive that the wrecking ball will hit the side of that structure on the 23rd of December.  The Council has given every opportunity for a saviour to appear, and now its time to stop talking about the dog.  The last breath of this structure will be taken in six weeks.  Although miracles do happen

Another topic of concern was the Sapphire project, which is defined as an apartment complex between Center and Mesquite streets near UTA.  Here is the reason that I supported this project.  This will be a 5 story steel girder structure and its construction will be formidable.  The decision before the Council was to abate 5 years of taxes once the structure was complete.  In other words it was an incentive package.  The current properties on this land are apartments that yield $7,000 annually in property taxes for the entire block.  During the abated time the properties will pay $21,000, or three times the current annual rate.  The land owner wants us to partner with him in deferring $2.1 million in property taxes that would not be collect unless the structure is built.  This will occur over the first 5 years of existence, while he pours $41 million into the project.  After that the tax base increases to its normal rate.  I have met with John Hall, who is in charge of planning and development for UTA.  This project fits in nicely with UTA's planned expansion to the east.  They intend to fill in the area north of Mitchell, between Center and Mesquite up to First Baptist.  In the overall spectrum of concerns for this project the positives out weigh the negatives overwhelmingly.  That was what was before the Council and it passed 5-3 with Mr. Glaspie absent. 


  1. Charlie, I understand that the the tax revenue from this land will increase as a result of this change and that you are replacing fairly rough apartments (and a single family home) with a much prettier building that fits in better with the look of the downtown area. I really do appreciate that. I also see that you are replacing what is currently there with much higher density housing. In 15 to 20 years, do you really believe this is where UTA employees will want to live? What assurance do we really have that this wont be another run down apartment complex down the road?

  2. Lonnie I do appreciate your concerns for 20 years down the road. That being said these apartments are targeted for $1.50 sq/ft. They will be very nice apartments. They will be next to a major educational institution and that institution will encapsulate them. If you were at my Town Hall Meeting I illustrated to you how we cannot put single family dwellings over the top of existing apartments. So therefore, other than redevelopment, what is your solution? This is a good deal for the city and for the developer. Everyone will have some skin in the game. I can't tell you what your neighborhood will look like in 15-20 years, can you? All I can do is evaluate each project for the good of the city and residents. I think this project has legs and will benefit the school and neighborhood. But it's only my opinion.

  3. Charlie,

    I appreciate your reply and your willingness to have an open discussion on these matters with your constituents.

    I have read your explanation about not being able to build other things on top of existing apartments. I really do agree with you on that actually. My concern for this project, is that it exponentially increases the density of the housing in that area for a long time to come and it will also eat up one single family lot.

    I am sure the apartments north of Lamar looked nice and used high tech construction methods for the time. I actually lived in what was Oak Valley Apartments when it seemed like they were for the urban professionals of the time.

    You asked me the question, other than redevelopment, what is your solution? I would say doing nothing or aggressively enforcing code on existing structures and fostering community involvement to go after the criminal element is better than creating a more dense urban environment that will likely be much harder to address down the road. No doubt a Councilman from the future will point out that those apartments were a decision made many years ago and the city cannot afford to buy them to give them to a developer. I believe a similar life cycle played out for the Peach Street Apartments. There are many examples in the city.

    As for the developer having skin in the game, my read on it was they get their tax cuts in the first few years during a period that will likely not see the fallout. They will be long gone when a future councilman is explaining to angry constituents in the UTA area why thy have all the crime around those apartments.

    I really hope my concern ends up being unfounded and you get to say, "I told you so."

  4. If we look to the north of this project we see residential buildings. UTA will at some point buy all these residences and turn them into educational facilities. Their residents will relocate. I don't think that they will be able to afford the rents in the new structure, but that is how redevelopment reconstitutes a city. Structures get out dated and run down. We have a library that is in the same situation. We're going to put in another library that will be higher to store more books and update it's cyber needs to meet the demands of the future. The library will require a bond election to fund the construction and it could run as much as $40 million. This apartment complex will cost $41 million and be paid for by a private company. They asked for a tax abatement of deferring $2.1 million over a 5 year period. It isn't taking anything out of the city's budget. The taxes paid over this timeframe will be three times that rate currently being collected. To reverse our city's deterioration will require city participation. Otherwise developers could look elsewhere. The stadiums are another good example of city participation and success. These issuse were both put on the ballot and passed, therefore the will of the people prevailed. These apartments are simply a smaller example of the same way of thinking, in an effort to give our city rejuvenation.

  5. I don't think I indicated here that the city budget would be hurt here; certainly not in the short run. Of course, the new property will have a much higher tax appraisel than the sum of the apartments and single family home that it replaces. If your assumption about UTA buying the homes to the north, then I could see these apartments sort of blending into the downtown area. Unlike stadiums though, apartments tend bring down an area over time. The more sense the apartments, the worse it is. The big negative I see here is the increased housing density.

    Again, I hope my concern is unfounded.

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