I only had very cursory knowledge about the development proposed for downtown........not really enough to talk about. However, after viewing the City Council meeting of May 6, I began to form up some thoughts.
First, I am very much for what I understand to be as the vision for downtown. I think its good for business and for the citizens of Rowlett. I think it would create some charm that we sorely need. It may be new charm made to look like old charm........but its charm nevertheless.
The developer's presentation was pretty good. I think I liked the presenter.
Now, if you took all the players in the room that was there for the presentation, that is staff, P&Z, if any, future tenants, city council members, consultants, developers, etc., they all fit into two catagories: 1. People who are there because of money, and 2. People who are there as a civic duty. The two groups do not have the same goals. The developers, contractors, managers, and even tenants, are there because of some fiscal decision. That is okay. That is the way this great country works. In the same room are civic motivated people that really don't care about construction costs, just so long as the project is built, but more importantly, produces what the city wants. That, too, is okay. Both are doing what they are supposed to do. It sounds harsh and totally void of compassion, but that okay. Each want the other to succeed, but they want their share of the pie, too.
So now the sophistication begins. The two parties have to come together to help each other and still get what they want.
I noticed during the presentation what the developer was saying intermix among some pretty clever sentences. Long before the developer started his presentation, I knew the same thing he did. I knew the rental project would be a success. He did also. The apartment market is that strong. Now, the developer was painting a very pretty picture about the new shops, offices, store front businesses........but listen carefully to his words and he was saying he was building apartments that had the ability to convert some units to office/business if the market ever proved up. Therefore, he was covering his risk with apartments, which he knew would work. He also knows he can "bank" an apartment deal in the Dallas area, but if you mix in some "speculative" business space, an additional risk is taken. Bankers don't like to speculate with depositor's money. Therefore, both parties have to realize that if the project contains too much risk, the bankers will pull the plug. So.........the city's got to give a little bit.
As a credit to Carl Pankrantz, he spotted all the above......except for the banking angle. He posed some very valid questions to the developer. His radar was on.
However, Doug Phillips made an equally valid observation. He essentially said that the downtown area needed to reach a critical mass (my words) in which other businesses would risk starting new businesses in the area of the apartments because of the increased population and foot traffic in the area. That would then benefit all of Rowlett, and create sales tax and shops and businesses for other Rowlett citizens.
The two City Councilmen framed the two questions above almost perfectly. However, they must remember there is a banker out there, too. The bank is looking at risk containment. And, they have a big vote.
Okay.......we know both sides are honorable. We know there is a banker out there that hates the word "risk." We know that both sides have legitimate purposes and due their rewards, provided that no one takes advantage of the other. It's a symbiotic relationship. We need each other.
I have read the Staff Report on Tuesday's CC meeting. Boy, do I have a lot of questions. They will discuss the acceptance of the partnership. Boy, do I have a lot of questions. They will discuss the city's obligations. Boy, do I have a lot of questions.
In concept, I like the proposal. The details are extremely fuzzy. I don't like that. I would like mysterious and unnamed people identified. I need to learn something about the probability of grants that is supposed to return 15 years of real estate taxes. There is a whole bunch of math I want to do.
I will try to post more on Tuesday before the CC meeting. I do not feel the citizens of Rowlett know enough about the proposed business deal.