When a money tree pops up in your back yard, what’s the harm in peeling off a few green leaves, right?
That’s the way Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp., was perceived several years back when wealthy developers pitched projects that unnecessarily leveraged tax dollars. And too often, they got them.
To its credit, LCDC — now called ignite cda — saw the agency’s survival hinged on banishing the practice of lining friendly pockets under the guise of resurrecting worn-down parts of town. Yet that specter has risen again.
Last week, Ginno Construction Co. met with ignite cda’s board and outlined a six-story condo project across the street from McEuen Park in downtown Coeur d’Alene. The $8 million project, called Park Place, will likely involve the kind of infrastructure touches that some cities pay for, like street lights and curbing work.
However, Mayor Steve Widmyer asked the question that should have been posed years ago as the first test of any urban renewal funding request:
“The big question would be if urban renewal dollars weren’t available, would you still move forward with the project?” he asked.
Ginno’s answer was “yes.”
In April, ignite cda’s answer should be “no.”