2/10/13

Urban Renewal vs. Tri-County Motors

 Previous posts on this subject:

The Tabares building Part 1
The Tabares building Part 2  Previous comments by Urban Renewal board members
The Tabares building Part 3  on the smoke and mirrors behind the 'funding' of this project
The Tabares building Part 4  observations on the 'demand' for this project

The Tribune-Democrat continues to serve as an advertising agency for the Urban Renewal Tabares/Plaza building scheme.

As we noted in Part 1 of our series on the Tabares/Plaza project, the empty lot immediately to the east of the Tabares building is owned by the City of La Junta. That lot is presently leased to Tri-County Motors, and has been for some time.

Tri-County Motors has also expressed an interest in swapping the lot currently occupied by the Tabares building - assuming that it is demolished - for the lot Tri-County now owns at 2nd and Raton. It would be a one-for-one swap, costing neither party any cash. This would give Tri-County an excellent 1st Street presence.

Note that Tri-County recently put over a half million dollars of their own money into refurbishing their property. You have to admit that it looks a lot better than it used to. La Junta Mill should take the example, but that's another story.

But in the so-called 'community conversation' meeting held on February 7 at the Barista, we had backers of the Urban Renewal Project objecting to 'a large amount of public money being disposed of in this manner.'

The local Chevrolet dealer is interested in acquiring the space occupied by the Plaza Building. He proposes to trade a lot on Third Street in back of his car lot for it. Some people objected to a large amount of public money being disposed of in this manner, but some favored it.

Clearly, those who object because of  'the large amount of public money being disposed of ...' have no idea of the facts of the matter.

This was brought up at the May 21, 2012 Public Hearing on Demolition, and was explained by Mayor Rizzuto:

Tri-County Motors made a proposal that if the Plaza Building were torn down he would like to swap the lot they own at 2nd and Raton for the lot on First Street. Their proposal has not been accepted but if the swap were made there would be no cost involved for the City or Urban Renewal. 

That was the meeting at which Steve Simpson, a strong supporter of spending public money in this very manner, took the city administration to task:

'Said he was concerned that the City allowed the Kit Carson to deteriorate to the condition it was in and blamed City Administration for not doing anything to avoid this.'

Simpson's statement illustrated his colossal ignorance of the facts of the Kit Carson issue, but that didn't prevent Simpson from going on Facebook and referring to council members as 'bastards'. The Simpsons apparently have no problems with spending public money to directly benefit private property owners; the Kit Carson, as you know, was owned by Beverly Babb, who tried for years to get enough public money to fund her business enterprise.

So now we have the Simpsons, Babb, and their cronies arguing for spending a huge amount of public money for a project best left to the private sector ... and in the process, essentially declaring war on the one remaining GM dealership between Pueblo and somewhere in Kansas, a business that could have packed up and left with Obama's tax-payer funded bailout of the auto makers, a business that is one of the most viable - for the moment - in the downtown area.

Because, you see ... the lot currently leased by Tri-County is essential to any Tabares/Plaza project other than demolition. If Urban Renewal has its way, Tri-County will lose that lot. And, since Urban Renewal - a governmental unit of the City of La Junta - is the owner of the Tabares building, and the city owns the lot currently leased to Tri-County Motors ... we now have the city poised to undercut a major downtown business.

Is that really how we want Urban Renewal treating the few remaining businesses in town? All for the sake of a rotting, falling down pile of bricks that will require in excess of $1.8 million in public money to make it viable again?