Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Good News That Is Kinda Stinky

Congratulations to the City of Noblesville for finally landing an actual tenant in the Noblesville Corporate Campus, in the area of I-69 & SR 238. Simon will be developing an enormous shopping area in the Campus.

While that's obviously great news for Noblesville and Hamilton County, the development is also representative of a sort of failing on the part of the City.

The Corporate Campus was touted as the future key location in the I-69 "Life Sciences Corridor".

For those who need the nudging, a shopping mall is not exactly life sciences. Again- it's great news, but hardly part of the plan, which has only had false starts, and nothing in the way of results. The eager reception by the City smacks of desperation. From the Indy Star:
City Council members here smiled and nodded through a presentation Tuesday night for the Hamilton Town Center -- an expansive retail project that could become the largest open-air shopping center in the metro area.

Then council members piled on the compliments, with some proclaiming the vast retail project would forever change the historic Hamilton County seat.

The way the Campus was developed is objectionable and incorrect.

Hamilton County is not the kind of place that is desperate for development, requiring prodding and pleading in order to draw it. No, Hamilton County is the fasting growing County in the state of Indiana.

And generally, when a developer selects a location for conversion from farm ground to commercial space, the developer provides the infrastructure, building the roads and sewers, and then transfering it all as a gift to the City.

The City of Noblesville built the infrastructure here. Roads to nowhere have occupied the Noblesville Corporate Campus area for two years. Sewers conveying nothing have been in the ground for the same time. This infrastructure is not a gift to the City. It is a gift to the developers, paid for by the City. Unnecessarily. At taxpayer expense. This goes way beyond mere zoning, which tries to plan and dictate what kind of development goes where.

According to a Noblesville Daily Times article that the City has maintained on its website, Noblesville spent $60 million on this infrastructure. That's an enormous amount of money to lay out on a project that has had roads to nowhere for two years, especially in light of the budget issues area governments have faced.

Again, the Simon development will be a wonderful thing. It's just that Simon should be preparing to foot the bill for the infrastructure right about now.

One other thing reported in the Star article is noteworthy:
"Since I became mayor two years ago, I've wanted to get the Corporate Campus off to a real strong start and not just take the first business that came along," Mayor John Ditslear said. "But never did I think we'd hit a home run like this with a Simon mall."

He's right about not taking the first business to come along. This is the second. Whatever happened to Helmer? Wasn't that the start to this regional development? We haven't heard much about Helmer lately, and that is curious. The idea behind the Life Sciences Corridor was to attract excellent, high-wage jobs. Helmer's website offers no news about the creation of its new headquarters in the Corporate Campus. A shopping area is great, and has the City drooling over projected tax revenues. But as for job creation? Give me all the Helmers we can find.

Then, lets get back to letting developers be developers, footing the bill for their projects.

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