Don Bauder 7:30 a.m., April 23
- Community Blog
- I've Got Issues
What Redevelopment REALLY Looks Like
I just walked over to the corner store and saw the cover of the UT discussing how San Diego is scrambling to lock up 4 BILLION dollars in redevelopment projects in case the Governor shuts down redevelopment altogether in March. Four BILLION dollars at a time that we are being told if we don't vote to raise taxes we are going to experience painful cuts to services? There is something really really wrong when redevelopment agencies can lock up 4 billion dollars in a matter of days and schools and state parks are powerless to demand even the amount of money they received last year.
What exactly are these developers giving us that is so valuable we just can't live without it? The primary purpose of a redevelopment agency is to fix blight, but what exactly does that mean?
Well, here it is. You might say "obviously this is a new project and just isn't activated yet with residents". No, actually this project has been fully operational since 2006 and most of the commercial spaces including this big corner anchor store lay empty and have been empty for years except for the homeless people that sleep in front of them. The website for the project bragged that Starbucks was their first tenant but even Starbucks could not survive the complete vacuum of activity this project created and shortly left. http://www.theboulevard.org/Projects.htm
So maybe the rest of the project is better....
So maybe this is just a bad example of redevelopment. Maybe its an anomoly.
Actually this is an award winning project. It received an Award of Excellence from the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies (NALHFA). Hmmm that sounds a bit suspicious, an award from the agency that finances affordable housing. http://www.sandiego.gov/redevelopment-agency/pdf/renaissancenalhfaaward041708.pdf
Well I guess this is the best we are going to get. Can you imagine what the projects look like that didn't win any awards? Now imagine 4 billion dollars worth of identical projects all over San Diego. Its just common sense that it is impossible to revitalize a neighborhood with depressing lackluster buildings. I have seen this all over town: vapid cliched affordable housing projects that cannot attract any commercial tenants because people just don't like them. No one wants to go and have dinner at an uninspiring stucco Walmart style building.
I mentioned this project a few weeks ago when I wrote: Why Was Toni Atkins Consulting for Developers Vying for Redevelopment Dollars After She Was Elected to State Assembly? http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/ive-got-issues/2011/jan/27/why-is-toni-atkins-still-working-as-a-lobbyist-for/
This project is the famed Rennaisance project at El Cajon and 30th. It is a quintessential example of what this 4 billion dollars is buying us. And as if the building itself was not bad enough, as I mentioned in the last piece, a rare art deco building that housed Gustafson’s Furniture Store was razed in order to make way for this eyesore. It was developed by Tom Carter and Reese Jarrett who happen to be private clients of LeSar and Atkins per the client list on their website. Apparently the project was such a success Carter and Reese were allowed to develop another project behind it as an affordable housing project a few years later.
And just so you know an affordable housing banal condo starts at $270,000 per the Reese Carter website. Doesn't that seem a bit high in this market? That is the subsidized price for the low income resident. Keep in mind they were given millions of dollars to offer the project at this price.
And it is not just this project that is destroying rare historic buildings and devestating neighborhoods, it is the vast majority of redevelopment projects, billions and billions of dollars worth. Money that is intended to "revitalize" neighborhoods is absolutely killing them. It isn't just that the money that is being used is creating blight, its that the money is quickly being used to destroy every last historic resource we have left. Its a double hit to our valuable neighborhoods. As the UT points out, developers and redevelopment agencies are scrambling to approve 4 billion dollars worth of projects by March 1st so that money will be locked away, locked away from schools, state parks, libraries and other things that add real value to communities to build more "Award Winning" projects like the one you see above. Is it really worth it?.