Friday, February 03, 2006

We could lose Costco

It was only a matter of time before we got “official” word that Costco has had offers from other communities both inside and outside of Lucas County (per Elizabeth Holland on the WSPD morning show). I’m just surprised it took this long.

And imagine how attractive an offer of “pick a spot and we’ll make it happen” would be to Costco…

Toledo is on the brink of losing this project. Abell is willing to invest $35 million dollars while bringing in good jobs and revenue to the City and County and Mayor Finkbeiner is quibbling over the issue of wider sidewalks, less green space and a drive-through.

But the Mayor’s positions are not the major issue in this fiasco – his approach is. He made up his mind about his personal vision of what Westgate should look like and he’s stubbornly insisting upon that vision. He is ignoring basic market and business realities as well as signed contracts that Abell has with potential tenants – contracts which were based upon previous approval from the Office of the Mayor.

And, by doing this, he continues to send a negative message to the business community. I can’t help but wonder what the new owners of Miracle Mile are thinking. Does anyone believe that they’re actually looking forward to submitting plans for redevelopment?

Further, the Mayor’s personal comments about Elizabeth Holland are rather hypocritical – such descriptions of “obstinate” and an attitude of “my way or the highway” could very easily be used to describe the Mayor.

Carty excuses his behavior by saying he’s doing what’s in the best interests of the City. And I believe that he believes this. But has he considered that his insistence on his position may well end up being bad for the Toledo in the long run if it costs us this development? Ms. Holland has already made further compromises – is Carty willing to compromise too?

During Carty’s campaign he said that the business community must lead our economic development – that government should provide a supportive role in that process. Perhaps he’s forgotten this in his zeal to interfere in the Westgate project.

But there is a solution to this dilemma – if Carty really wants his own way on this perhaps he should just purchase the entire site himself and then he can develop it any way he wants.


ToledoTomorrow said...

Maybe you missed the fact that Abell and Liz Holland are looking for public investment in their project in tax abatements and infrastructure improvements.

The city should pony up millions but not have any say in the site plan? That's the free market at work?

Costco is entering the Toledo market because they can make a lot of money here. Communities that have required them to build better stores have gotten better stores.

We don't need leadership that says Toledo has to settle for less.

Maggie Thurber said...

Toledotomorrow - thanks for your comments, but I didn't miss the public investment in the project.

I agree with you that the public should have input into the site plan. But there is public input into the plan - through the Plan Commission - and by the public...not just elected officials.

I've never said that Toledo should settle for less, but our rules are codified in the Zoning Regulations and I don't know of anyone who believes that changing the rules in the middle of the game is the right thing to do - especially when the desire to change the rules is coming from a few elected officials who think they know better than the majority of the public and the individual investing the most amount of money.

Additionally, most of the infrastructure improvements will be needed regardless of what goes on that site, so such things as sewers will benefit the site and the entire area, regardless of what is built.

Fortunately for Toledo and Lucas County, Carty backed down on some of his demands and Abell has added more green space - and the Plan Commission has approved the site plan

You are correct that we don't need leadership that says we have to settle for less. But we do need leadership that knows how to be tactful and respectful in communicating.

Carty's desires to have a great site were not wrong - but the way in which he handled the communication of those desires was.

Aaron said...

I agree with you 100% Maggie, keep up the good work here.

IMO, this is THE PERFECT TIME to revamp Westgate, and an anchor like Costco is THE PERFECT WAY to do it.

You have many retirees in the Westgate area who are in love with the way things used to be, but you also have a new generation of young families who would be happy to drive down the street and shop for things rather than driving to the suburbs.

A blighted Westgate continues to drag down Old Orchard and eventually Ottawa Hills. Lets fix this problem now.

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