Well folks, I’m back from the ‘dead zone’ and ready to jump back into the troubling issues that face New Albany on a daily basis.
I want to first thank the folks that helped out in my absence, and I want to thank the folks who read the blog for keeping the ball rolling.
My illness has retreated, and I am now able to write new articles and participate in the discussions that ensue. Believe it or not, I have missed the banter that the blog instigates, and the opportunities to put forth my opinion on certain matters.
For now, I want to talk a bit about what New Albany is doing, or has done, to encourage Downtown revitalization.
What are they doing to entice businesses to locate in existing downtown buildings? Are there ways to be providing certain incentives, and/or possible funds to help with restoration efforts that will ultimately save our historic buildings?
Downtown IS a TIF District you know. All the taxes collected from that area are to be set aside for use ONLY in that area, in terms of funding for economic development projects and surrounding infrastructure improvements.
If they are obligating all the available EDIT funds, using a large portion to make Scribner Bond payments, then what about the TIF money that’s earmarked for Downtown? What kind of “projects” can be supported using those funds? Are there plans for utilizing these funds already?
More importantly, what, if anything, have they been doing with that money for the past 3 years to encourage or support Downtown Economic Development? Because, we’ve watched as major developments have taken footholds in the fringe areas of Charlestown Road, Grantline Road, State Street… and waiting in the wings are all the County developers who are chomping at the bit to build large quantities of high priced housing.
Why have there been no significant investments in the Downtown area until this YMCA/Natatorium idea? Are they really going to throw this much money at ONE project in an area that has been ‘dead’ for some 20+ years, and just HOPE that everything will change??? What a naïve way to go about things. Then again, we do have a child for an Economic Development Director, don’t we?
For New Albany, the fringe areas have been the ‘hot markets’, while Downtown has sat empty and neglected, save for the few brave souls who are eeaking out a living and keeping the doors open in a hostile environment that screams, “WE’RE CLOSED!” to anyone who dares to enter or ask after 6PM.
Meanwhile, surrounding Downtown neighborhoods have had to suck up the minor developments that turn neighborhoods into mixed, commercial/residential land use that lowers property values for homeowners, and negatively impacts the neighborhood in terms of traffic, crime, density, and aesthetic value.
Like the development at Ellen Court and Green Valley Road that completely disrupted the residential “feel”, and turned the area into a bustling business district.
Why couldn’t those who wished to open a medical facility use an existing building downtown? We’ve already built and paid for the parking garage!
What about the hell-bent plans to develop something on Daisy Lane despite the safety issues that have been presented and demonstrated?
Now, the East End, the entry to New Albany, is under siege as more and more green spaces are disappearing from the landscape, replaced with ugly modern shopping spaces that offer no hint of our historic treasures that sit silent and empty only a mile or so up the road.
I’ve watched, in utter disgust, as another concrete block building goes up on what was one of several open green spaces that dotted the entry into New Albany. What a shame it is to watch those treasures disappear.
First came the corner of Thomas and Spring. A monster office building that took up every possible square inch of developable land, coming dangerously close to a multi-unit housing structure during construction, and it still sits empty today.
This other building is going up at the corner of Spring & Best, which is right next door to the Dairy Queen. Word has it that this is going to be an auto parts store.
Just what we need!!! Especially since there is an Auto Zone and a Pep Boys store only 4 minutes from here, in Clarksville.
However, my quandary is not about how many auto parts stores the demographics of the area can support, it is about what it’s going to take to get businesses into those long neglected, very expensive, downtown buildings.
Still, can someone please explain to me how it can be less expensive to buy land, build a brand new building, and pay all the expenses associated with such, than it is to refurbish and utilize an existing Downtown building?
Why has Downtown NOT already been marketed as the place to do business? Yet it is this very objective that is being touted as the end goal and ultimately the saving grace of New Albany.
I find this situation very troubling, and somewhat curious, in so far as these buildings remain sitting empty, slowly deteriorating, until the Scribner Place development takes place.
I want to know why. I think we all deserve to know.