Results tagged “Downtown Midland” from Jessica's Well
August 12, 2011
This is one of those projects that I have mixed feelings about. If it is driven by private donations...which the proposed Ritz Cultural Events Center appears mostly to be...then more power to them.
But the DMMD is getting involved with what could amount to up to $132,500 of taxpayer money, so I have to ask the question: What capabilities does this project bring to downtown that don't already exist? What is to be done here that couldn't be done at either the Midland Center or the Yucca Theatre?
Both of those venues are available for rental and already have a professional staff intact. The Yucca even already has the cabaret-style seating, which is pretty rare in a building of its nature. Plus, the Yucca Theatre is the most singularly notable entertainment venue in all of downtown. The good people who run the Yucca have been bringing people downtown for events long before the term "Opportunity Zone" even got inflicted upon us.
Tax money really doesn't need to be involved here. But if it simply has to be (and, alas, when is that not the case anymore?) the same amount of money, spent on the Yucca Theatre, would be much more effective, wouldn't it?
May 28, 2009
I really enjoy having Mayor Wes Perry in the blogosphere. If you can tolerate open comments there can be some great education and debate that goes on within these little digital bits.
I'm not going to dispute the reasons for the Council Approving the BASIC deal, I never had a doubt it was going to happen, I just like for the communicaiton to be complete and the facts to be, well, factual.
Twice in the last couple of days City Council Members have made a mis-leading statement. Mayor Perry makes it again today in his blog:
When complete this could be the highest valued property in downtown and a major step in the process of revitalizing downtown. On top of that, increasing the taxable values of such buildings shifts some of tax burden from residential property owners to business property owners.
Seeing as how the Council just voted to spend the TIRZ money on the Centennial Plaza redevelopment, I don't know how they don't remember that all property valuation increases in the TIRZ (Central Business District) above 2001 levels are captured by the TIRZ until 2031. There will be no more property tax dollars generated for the general budgets for the City, County, Hospital, or College until the TIRZ is abolished or expires.
So, while there is more property tax collection from the Central Business District, there is no means to turn that into reduced property taxes, because at its heart the TIRZ's mission is to increase spending on Downtown, not shift the property tax burden back to downtown....at least until 2031.
July 22, 2008
According to MyWestTexas.com, the Midland City Council denied a specific use permit to some investors who wanted to open a bar in the Village Shopping Center at Garfield & Wall.
As one of the first developments to start the retail/office exodus from our City Center, this intersection is suffering like other parts of our fair community, with the large, empty Folgers/HeartPlace building, empty store fronts, and the abandoned bank building across the street.
From the quotes, it appears the Council was not deterred in its efforts to validate every study, focus group and wish list that has the development of entertainment and night life as a high priority for the Community as a whole. I'm sure the project would have gone forward in one of our economic opportunity zones like Downtown, ClayDesta/MC or the Airport. Since it wasn't in one of those, I suppose the 70% response of people opposed who received notice and the 90 petition signatures to block the permit had weight.
"While we are denying it, I strongly recommend that you do not halt your efforts to open your business," Councilman Michael Trost said. "We need entertainment like yours."
Councilman John James said downtown Midland would be a better location for something like this.
The developers seemed nonplussed about the idea:
However, the businesses partners, who intend to still open their venue at another location, said they are setting their sights somewhere in north Midland where "their target clientele live." (Emphasis mine)
I wonder if somebody forgot to dangle a check to help the developers change their plans? If they did, does that mean no amount of money will spur nightlife development in Downtown Midland?
Maybe the developers could have taken the tact the Blue Ridge Apartment complex did with Whitman/Plantation Hills residents and just keep submitting and submitting forcing the council to turn down key components of the community development and master plan again and again and again.
May 28, 2008
Perhaps the Council is just providing the Midland Development Corporation a little more time to get an incentive package together for the developer.
Okay, that was a cheap shot. But not so cheap that I am not going to use it.
But it does cause me to raise the question once again: What is it that the housing "pros" know that the Downtown backers not know? The Blue Ridge Apartments project would add 209 badly needed housing units to the inventory and the developer is pushing hard to build it even in the face of a good deal of resistance on the part of the City Council.
On the other hand, the council is willing to bend over forwards for anyone that is willing to build like units downtown and there are no takers. At least no takers at the current subsidy levels.
Downtown still awaits the game-changer.
Meanwhile, up on the Loop the pros don't consider it a game at all.
May 16, 2008
Todays' MRT Story about the Midland Municipal Management District bailing out Downtown Midland, Inc. is fascinating, to say the least.
The part of the story I find most telling is that once DMI got the MMMD and TIRZ going, and the associated taxes and fees, the downtown property owners quit paying dues to Downtown Midland, Inc. (surprise).
But, beyond that I think it is of great importance to the taxpaying public that Downtown Midland no longer has a board to handle its affairs. No board? That means those who pushed the hardest for the revitalization and utilization of Downtown Midland, DON'T SEEM TO CARE ANYMORE.
Maybe this apathy can be attributed to the creation of the other two entities, since it is their job now, or maybe die hard Downtown Midland boosters have really thrown in the towel. Either way, why are our City Leaders and Economic Development Leaders continuing to push downtown projects and downtown revitalization, when the very people who have been presenting this agenda to our leaders and the community for decades have abandoned their flagship entity and left a string of old debts to be settled by a tax supported body?
I know the various taxing entities and boards have spent a fortune on downtown plans, but, if this isn't a sign that the redevelopment plans for downtown Midland which have been hatched over the past decades need to be scrapped, I don't know what is. A plan without vision and energized people to see it through is worthless. Downtown Midland Inc. is dead, there is no need to try and resuscitate it by loaning it a couple of the MMMD's board members.
The plans for Downtown Midland need a radically new direction, that is locally and downtown property owner driven. It is time to cut out the out-of-town consultants and the multiple layers of quasi-governmental and taxing entities created to revitalize downtown, because the downtown property owners have spoken very loudly with their abandonment of DMI. I'm pretty sure they would abandon the TIRZ and MMMD, but those taxes and fees are mandatory.
UPDATE: What is the City going to do now that one of the Troika of entities entrusted with implementing the 2007 Midland SMART Downtown Plan is defunct (pg. 45)?
March 28, 2008
Another archway superstructure....this one foolishly inverted so that "somewhat of a night life" goes tragically un-attracted.
March 27, 2008
With a mere $2.8 million of our tax dollars, downtown's Centennial Plaza could get a makeover that would turn it from an "Event Oriented Park" (Bad) into an Urban Park (Yea!).
The details and intricacies of how, exactly, you turn an "event-oriented" park into an "urban" park is best left to those who design, but apparently archways are involved.
And not just any archways, either.
Lighted archways! Because, you see, studies have apparently found that people don't visit parks unless they have archways that they can walk under.
"The biggest feature would be a super structure," [The Proposing Consultant] said. He proposes a serious of aluminum archways that pedestrians can walk through. "It would have lighted rails. And it'd create a warm and receptive space that would attract somewhat of a nightlife."
June bugs and cicadas are night life, I suppose. And coming to the park at night to watch them drown in the water feature wouldn't be any less entertaining than minor league baseball.
To be sure, transforming an underperforming event oriented park into a thriving urban park involves other things, too. Like moving trees from one place to another. And grass.
Plans call for removing some of the trees for visibility from the streets, some of the structured seating near the amphitheater area, some of the grass area along Texas Avenue and part of the water feature. However, the grass area would be extended on the Wall Street side while other water features would be enhanced or added elsewhere in the park.
The park would also feature a small stage that could be expanded if needed.
So to encourage more use by the public we are going to have an expandable stage...but we are reducing audience seating? Well, duh! We don't want it to be an events oriented park anymore.
We are shooting for a full blown, totally genuine authentic urban park feel. Archways! Trees there, not here. Grass there, not here. Big stage. Small audience.
And to make sure that no detail is ignored in creating the most authentic urban park experience possible, the MDC is currently recruiting out-of-state hobos to come sleep in it at night.
November 30, 2007
It's like drilling oil wells...
or so says outgoing MDC president Jim Nelson. It seems the MDC is not only failing to significantly promote diversification of our local economy, they can't even diversify their vocabulary!
The recent activity of the MDC just doesn't stand up to that Oil & Gas analogy. Here we are again with another oil field service company getting money to expand into an Oil & Gas market that is so white hot and flush with cash that drilling a well isn't that risky of an enterprise. Not to mention the fact they have once again incented a company to move into a facility that is not currently within the City Limits of Midland. What's wrong with the Entrada Building for these folks? City/4a/4b Taxes?
Save TRACE engines, which like the recently announced Falcon International deal in Odessa, has ownership with deep West Texas roots, and most likely would have located here to some degree without ED help, they're shooting fish in a barrel.
The other announcement is kind of interesting, in August of 2007, on this very blog, I made a semi-serious suggestion for the MDC to start kicking in dollars for recruiting doctors for Midland Memorial Hospital. I guess, the "I hate Midland and Everything About it" crowd actually has a few ideas worth implementing, even if they were offered somewhat in jest.
Personally, I think Midland has shot itself in the foot with the ED Tax, we've sucked untold millions out of the local economy for the purpose of creating and retaining jobs, yet this is not our problem. As America as a whole enjoys a time of relative prosperity, the outrageous salaries of the oil field can't seem to get people out here. When we need quality of life improvements, housing and lower taxation to make ourselves more attractive....we're stuck with the MDC, which is powerless to affect those aspects of the local economy.
Yeah, they accepted a "Quality of Place Plan," but if they ever post it on their website I think we will find it is very similar to the TIRZ plan, the Downtown Midland Plan, MAAP, Come Home to Midland Plan, and the Vision 2000 Plan. At least we recycle.
November 28, 2007
We're not the only oil town dealing with a severe labor crunch:
"I'm tired of hiring anyone with a pulse only to have them take advantage of me," Rose said in an interview.
[She] agreed retailers need to be more lenient during the boom but not so much as to sacrifice their integrity.
"How many times can you call a worker to wake them up and remind them they're two hours late for their shift? Eventually it has to stop."
I bet you have to wait 45 minutes for a table at their half-full Abuelos, too.
Stay strong, Sister Edmonton!
November 25, 2007
I was reading some commentary on the most influential national blogs and even for the pundits, it all comes down to traffic. So I decided to see how some of the locals ranked....
November 19, 2007
Judging from the Google search results for Scharbauer Sports Complex, you all might want to start a blog, too. Oh, and whatever you do, don't Google, Scharbauer Sports Complex Failure.
Bon Internet, everyone.
November 18, 2007
With full administrator privileges comes the ability to create a perfect world...for the length of an open thread anyway.
The Scenario: The City Council all woke up on a Tuesday morning before their meeting after having been visited during the night by three spirits which caused them to have a collective epiphany...which then caused them to place a sunset clause on the Economic Development Sales Tax. The tax will expire on December 31, 2012 unless re-approved by the voters on the first Tuesday of November, 2012.
The Rules: 1) Assume that the MDC has money in the bank, unallocated and unrestricted, say $20,000,000. 2) They cannot simply give it back, nor turn in over to the general fund. It must be spent by them.
They have roughly four and a half years left to either maintain their current direction or alter it either slightly or completely.
So, what do they do?
(Threadjack Warning: I will be personally moderating this thread. Don't go off topic and don't digress or devolve. Also, depending on the traffic and the discourse, I may be bumping this post back up to the top from time to time. So if you pull up this page and see this post at the top there still may be some newer posts below it. If I do this you will see the word "STICKY" inserted in the title.)
November 17, 2007
If you have arrived at this page while researching Midland and are wondering if, should you move your company here and take public money as an "incentive" to do it, you will be called a Corporate Welfare Queen....I have this to say:
Yeah, it could happen.
But you should come anyway...without the kickback, because Midland is a great town.
Except for those mean old bloggers.
November 17, 2007
In any event, the Midland Development Corporation is in a no-win situation at this point. It cannot - I repeat: cannot - compete in a blogging war, should it come to that. It has neither the resources nor the expertise nor the sheer willpower. Nor the funny.
Okay, I made that last part up.
UPDATE: BUUUUURRRNNN! From the Comments section of Jimmy the P's post:
I think that the MDC could certainly benefit from beefing up its online presence, and frankly I think putting Midland at the top of the Google list for certain search terms is something that should have been done a long time ago. There is no better time, and indeed there may never be another opportunity, for Midland to seize upon its prosperity and diversify the local economy than right now, while we're strong and in a position to show people that we have bustling commerce.
In my brief experience with the Well, I think that the people over there represent a small cabal of deeply misguided, confused people who don't understand the changing political situation in the United States, and who don't see the coming tsunami of technological innovation in the transportation industry and in the nation's energy infrastructure on the horizon [Emphasis mine...so that we can all better feel the patronizing tone washing over us.]. These changes could potentially lay waste to Midland, and they are either too blind or insouciant to see it.
----- Texas Soulja
This leaves me a bit confused. Did we build the stadium too big or too small to stem the coming tsunami of technological innovation? Will more skyboxes for the Rockhounds slow or speed up our adaptation to the nation's changing energy infrastructure?
Oh, but he must mean the MDC. But then we will probably have a philosophical split concerning the city government's role in directing the economy. While we both agree that there will be no better a time for "Midland" to seize upon its prosperity and diversify the local economy we almost certainly disagree on how this is best and most genuinely done.
In the above example, to me "Midland" should mean individuals and businesses in Midland taking this opportunity to use their windfalls gained either directly or indirectly from high oil prices and based upon their (literally) thousands and thousands of individual competencies, experiences, and judgements on how they can best protect themselves from a downturn in the oil market then making investment decisions accordingly. The job of the governmental agencies in this scenario is to facilitate a pro-business climate for all comers, not just a chosen few.
To others, apparently, "Midland" in this context means a six member board of political appointees placing an extra tax on all business and individuals so that they may initiate the transfer of public funds to private concerns in order to "incent" these otherwise relunctant businesses to relocate or expand here.
It is icing on the cake for those of us in the small cabal of the disgruntled non-visionary that an actual look at who the MDC has been giving money to bolsters our case, not theirs.
If the MDC starts a blog of its own I hope Texas Soulja will write for them...and will leave the comments open.
November 16, 2007
November 16, 2007
Consultants hired to develop strategic plan indicate that the economic development corporation needs a blog to counter online critics and keep public informed of changes as MDC implements recommendations.
Update: Jimmy the P weighs in.
November 14, 2007
It doesn't come as any real shock that the Scharbauer Sports Complex is underperforming the expectations of its supporters. More interesting is the possibility that it may even be underperforming the expecations of its critics. The cynic in me tells me that its supporters are hardly shocked. They passed the referendum, built the complex, engraved the names on the placque and are now long down the road when the reality hits....as they knew they would be.
Of course we can't turn back time and re-vote on the issue nor can or should we bulldoze the venue.
All we can do is take away one simple lesson and it is this: If the powers that be commissioned a feasibility study on the stadium complex this very day it would still come back with numbers that would make their collectivist...er...I mean collective mouths water. Just as would a feasibility study commissioned today for the La Enterada industrial building, which as far as anyone can tell is serving as an "Air Museum", perhaps in cooperation with the Air Power Heritage Museum next door.
Feasibility studies are not a discovery process, rather they are paper-based ass-coverings.
It will serve us well to remember this because the push for a new (and Feasible! Feasible. Feasible. Feasible.) convention center is not dead. Far from it.
Let the Lemon Bowl forever serve as a concrete, physically imposing reminder that over time the cases for doing these projects are almost always shown to be overstated.
October 27, 2007
First things first, I just have to fix the lead quote:
Consultants Alan Cox and John Roberts of TIPS Strategies Inc. repeatedly have emphasized
the importance of boththe obvious need for workforce recruitment and the company line of developing Midland's downtown.
I'm still struggling with why we are paying these people any money at all.
Here's "new idea" number one:
....hiring a company to draft a proposal for an "agile port" in the La Entrada Business Park, near the airport and visit with private companies that may be interested in developing it. The facility would serve as a point where goods arriving from Mexico could be processed and transported by air, rail or road to destinations throughout the United States.
Ummmm...hasn't MOTRAN and the La Entrada Rail district been working on that for almost a decade. Also, wasn't the trade zone designation acquired around the airport when we were building the new terminal for this exact purpose. So we hired a company to remind us what we were already supposed to be doing and they tell us to hire another company to do something we have two quasi-governmental agencies already working on?
Here's "new idea" number 2:
Additionally, the consultants suggested the MDC partner with Midland College to develop an applied technology center at the ClayDesta Business Park. This center would help existing businesses improve their products and services by introducing them to current technologies that could be used in other ways.
Ummm...doesn't MC already have a center off campus near Furr's that is supposed to provide many of those functions now? And why build at ClayDesta? Isn't the college's main campus like right across the airport? And don't they have lots of newly available land due to the closure of the third runway a while ago? What about Downtown? Can't they at least be consistent? You drill invest in downtown as #1 and then you propose ClayDesta for a "Business Technology Center"? Huh?
And the best part, they encourage the MDC to take some more risk, since we are more conservative than a bank. Does that mean we do things like eliminate the clawback provisions and just invest in companies like a drunken investment capitalist?
October 17, 2007
City election politics may be heating up, but it seems the community may be tuning out....to a point. For the watchers (junkies), not much new is coming out of these debates and forums, just a little refining of their message and a bit of political calculus.
The MDC and the Menchaca/Urby episode are still getting some play, but the latest thing from the LWV Forum seems to be the City's reserve funds.
I guess the MDC's $10 ~ $14 million in the bank is a little too sacred right now, so everybody is hunting for something else to place on the tax-cutting campfire.
According to the City's 2007-2008 budget (.pdf):
The General Fund Unappropriated Fund Balance, which is essential for bond ratings, self-insurance considerations, disaster recovery and major economic or regulatory changes, is projected to be $28,097,112 at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2007 - 2008.
The debate comes in the fact it is City Policy to have an Unappropriated Fund Balance equal to 25% of the annual GENERAL BUDGET (about $70 Million), and this year the percentage is around 40% (which is down from 44% last year).
The City has a policy of maintaining a General Fund Unappropriated Fund Balance equal to at least twenty five percent (25%) of each fiscal year's operating expenditures. This level is an important factor in maintaining the City's general purpose bond ratings because of the cyclical nature of the energy industry, which is a major factor in the City's economy. It also provides a source of additional investment income to help maintain a level property tax rate.
So, it seems that by City Policy we have about $10.5 million more in the bank than required. According to the graph in the budget, we've been above 25% for the last 10 years and over 40% for the last 3.
This reserve doesn't include the funds we have in capital reserve funds, interest and sinking reserve funds etc. This "extra $10.5 Million" is just left over money from previous general budgets that we just kept in the cookie jar, while going to the bank and borrowing money, or soaking water customers with tiered rates and the "concept" of drainage improvement and treatment fees. Hmmmm, the budget said this fund is used for regulatory changes...isn't our storm water drainage problem mostly due to regulatory changes due to our population??? So why do we need a fee?
More interesting though, according to the September 30, 2006 financial audit of the City of Midland, city government was sitting on $67 Million in cash and $40 Million in investments. What the heck are we doing sitting on $107 Million (it has got to be larger now) in *Cash and Investments* and yet we borrow money.
Now, I'm sure some will say, well there are the liabilities and you have to have some reserves and what not, but according to the audit, the City of Midland has a net worth of $293 Million (it has got to be higher now).
When corporations start seeing high net worths, with lots of cash available, they discharge debt, buy back stock, give dividends to investors, etc. Don't our city Fathers pride themselves in saying they run the City like a Business, and the Mayor is the CEO?
October 8, 2007
One of the supposed great features of most (if not all) of the 'incentive' agreements that we as taxpayers enter into with these companies is the "Clawback" provision. The clawback provision theoretically provides us protection in that if a given company does not perform on its pledge to create a certain number of jobs, then in that event they must pay back the money that was provided them by the development corporation.
In our cases locally, TMP Trailer, Countrywide Mortgage, and W Power and Light have all paid back their incentive money because they did not make their "job creation" targets.
But if these companies are in a position to pay this money back after their venture has not performed to expectations how is it they need the money from the Midland Development Corporation on the front end?
And if these companies are indeed on the hook for the money by way of a clawback provision then how can this money ever be (correctly) labeled an incentive? It seems that to be an true incentive that the money handed over to these privately owned companies would have to somehow alleviate some risk for them. But if there is a clawback provision, how is risk for the company reduced, exactly?
The announcement of the production of Trace Engine's first aircraft power plant was treated as a big deal by the news (which it should have been) and by the local chamber (again, which it should have been) and by the local economic development establishment which, along with the state, essentially took credit for Trace Engines coming to Midland.
Never mind that Trace is owned by thirty area investors and was never going to go anywhere else but Midland.
And also never mind that, if this deal also has a clawback provision like the others, it does not reduce or alleviate the risk of the venture to the investors.
So what is this money for? Does taking this money from the taxpayers and turning it over to well-connected private citizens facilitate true economic development in this (or any) case?
Look at the overall size of the Trace Engine venture. Then make an estimate of the likely aggregate net worth of the thirty local investors. And then look at the $400,000 that the MDC will give Trace Engines and make your own decision as to whether thirty of the areas most sophisticated investors made a go/no-go decision based upon the MDC's participation....a participation level that was not even known until well after Trace's arrival.
The economic development establishment would like you to picture this great public-private partnership involving visionary city leaders joining with rugged industrialists in order that things get done when they otherwise would not, thereby securing Midland's economic future.
I picture a hamster slapping down a lever because it has learned that when it does, food drops out of the chute.