Tax Increment Financing And Blight - And Response

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Chattanooga’s downtown markets are remarkably strong, stronger than most anyone could have imagined just a couple of decades ago. Thanks to massive public investments in infrastructure and amenities, developers and businesses now find downtown an attractive place to invest private capital. Though additional development incentives were needed in the early years to subsidize private investments, most such incentives are just giveaways now. 

A giveaway is not a strategy. It’s not even an action verb. It’s a noun. A giveaway is something that belongs to taxpayers but is handed over for private interests to claim as profit, personal income, and whatever other private gains are hidden in the “soft costs” of the project. 

Considering all the wealth that will be generated by all the development the MLK Boulevard extension will service, taxpayers should require the developers to make the street improvements and dedicate the reconstructed right-of-way to the city for maintenance. That is the way market driven development is done elsewhere. For all practical purposes, the roadway already exists and only needs to be improved anyway. The project simply does not need TIF, that is, unless this so-called “strategy” depends entirely on the taxpayers to meet the “needs” of just this one Nashville real estate developer. The MLK extension does not and should not depend on that. There are surely other developers less needy. 

By law, TIF is for “blighted areas.” This is not a blighted area by any stretch of the imagination. It is dishonest to try to pass this TIF proposal’s purpose off as having anything to do with eliminating blight. To claim that in the “economic impact plan” raises serious, very serious ethics questions, both political and professional. To take a financial resource dedicated to blighted areas and give it away to wealthy developers in one of the hottest commercial markets in the state, is to quite literally steal from the poor to give to the rich. For that reason, this TIF proposal raises serious, very serious moral questions as well. Indeed, this TIF proposal is about the most blatant, obvious, and shameful example of poverty pimping I have ever seen, and that statement is coming from someone who has done an awful lot of professional work on behalf of the poorest communities in this country. (I’ve seen it all, and I’ve seen enough.) 

Chattanooga has four major contiguous long blighted commercial and industrial market areas, plus a few other smaller pockets of blight. That does not include commercial areas in Brainerd that are marginalized and at risk of blight because Eastgate (for some mysterious reason) never seems to merit the same consideration for interstate access that CBL is awarded once every decade just for the asking. The remaining blighted areas are THE areas that need strategies for major public investment in infrastructure and amenities, along with development incentives like TIF and PILOT. How is it that the first greenway ever included in a city plan was proposed along Chattanooga Creek, yet it remains the last place to ever see one, if it ever will? 

Now that Chattanooga’s gentry enjoys the fruits of massive public investments and development incentives for downtown, the riverfront, and Enterprise South, the only barriers to doing the same, but on a much smaller scale, in our remaining blighted areas are blighted hearts.

Frank Wrinn 

* * * 

Excellent, Mr. Wrinn. 

Joey Blevins


Lights Out At The Brainerd Tunnel

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

Heavy Rains Are Coming In The Next Few Days


Will someone please check into why the Brainerd Tunnel lights are off all week? This is the tunnel going from McCallie Avenue to Brainerd Road. The lights have been off all week. I called ... (click for more)

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone ... (click for more)

Please remember to check on folks that are vulnerable which includes the elderly and homebound. With expectations of up to 7 inches or more of rain, we may see flooding in areas that rival those ... (click for more)


Opinion

Lights Out At The Brainerd Tunnel

Will someone please check into why the Brainerd Tunnel lights are off all week? This is the tunnel going from McCallie Avenue to Brainerd Road. The lights have been off all week. I called the city of Chattanooga at 311 and a lady said that was under jurisdiction of TDOT. She transferred me. I left a detailed message with my phone number, date and time. No return phone call ... (click for more)

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone number. We do not post the contact information, but need it for verification. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Cash Canyon Road Closed As Section Of Remote, Narrow Road Washes Away

A section of the remote Cash Canyon Road that goes from Lookout Valley along the Tennessee River toward the Tennessee River Gorge washed out during Saturday's downpours. County Commissioner David Sharpe said County Public Works has a large excavator rented for Monday. He said, "They stated the time to repair would depend on if more damage is done tonight. If damage stays the ... (click for more)

Mudslide Washes Away Subway Restaurant At Foot Of Signal Mountain; Nearby Employee Says: "It's Gone"; Flooding Closes Numerous Roads

A mudslide on Saturday morning washed away the Subway restaurant at the foot of Signal Mountain. "The Subway is gone," an employee of the nearby Shuford's Barbeque, said. She said a large amount of mud and debris washed down from the steep hillside behind the buildings. No one was inside the Subway. It had closed on Friday after a tree fell on it. The location is ... (click for more)

Sports

Baylor Advances To Division II-AA State Basketball Semifinals

Baylor overcame a ten-point first half deficit with a shutdown defensive effort in the middle quarters to defeat Christian Brothers, 65-51, in the Division II-AA quarterfinals on Saturday. The Red Raiders will advance to the state tournament under first-year coach Mark Price next Thursday hosted at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena. Baylor (22-5) will play the winner of top-ranked ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Chattanooga Red Wolves Tie Atlanta United 2