Drafting a development solution

A Richmond councilman has a new idea for funding economic development.

First District Councilman Bruce Tyler, who is also principal of local architecture firm Baskervill, is drafting an ordinance that would dedicate a portion of proceeds from the sale of city-owned property to economic development.

“We end up using general funds to create economic incentives,” Tyler said. “My concept is to look for another income source to build an economic arsenal as opposed to having to pit core services against economic development.”

Tyler thinks about 25 percent of proceeds from the sale of city property would be adequate for the economic development fund.

A list of surplus city property for sale could not be obtained by press time, but one lot that might be coming on to the market soon is the Westhampton School.

The Richmond Community High School that was there recently moved to the Chandler Middle School building.

The school building, located at Patterson and Libbie avenues, was assessed at $7.55 million. The School Board moved the high school to the other location because it would be too costly to make needed accessibility improvements.

Other city owned property that has been up for sale in recent years is the historic Leigh Street Armory, which is appraised at $400,000. In 2006, the city council nixed a sale of the property for $200,000 to a company that wanted to turn it into 10 apartments.

Tyler said that his staff is studying the specifics of how much money such an ordinance could generate and that the fund could be supplemented with other funds during years when the city has excess revenue to dedicate to it.

“I think it is an idea that changes the way we do economic development for the betterment of the whole community where we not just handing out free money,” he said.

Al Harris is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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Brian Glass
Brian Glass

Councilman Tyler’s concept is a good one. The key to its success would be for the City to have the discipline not to tamper with the funds. In effect they would have to be dedicated to a “lock box” account.

If successful this could be a model for all government entities- state and federal.

Scott Burger
Scott Burger

No more corporate welfare!

Use the sale of old schools to pay for new schools!

At some the madness has to stop. Too much taxpayer money has already been wasted on downtown’ economic development’, aka corporate welfare.

No surprise that Glass comments in favor of this foolishness.

Scott Burger
Scott Burger

I would like to apologize to Mr. Glass for my reference to him in my comment.

While it is clear we have different viewpoints, it was poor form on my part.