The City of Westminster is so strapped for cash that it recently spent nearly $1.5 million for a demolished building and empty store.
City Edition, the tax-funded “news” paper published by the city, reports in its April/May 2010 edition:
The City of Westminster Economic Development Authority on January 27 acquired the vacant Macy’s store at the Westminster Mall property, the latest step in the city’s long-term strategy to revitalize the area.
Cost of the 157,000-square-foot building, which sits on 8.43 acres, was $700,000. WEDA has also acquired the former Trail Dust Steak House on the mall site for $727,103. The Trail Dust building torn down in early March [sic].
In today’s world of tax kickbacks and bureaucratic brown nosing, it is infeasible to redevelop a property without heavy involvement by local government. What Westminster should do to promote redevelopment instead is abolish its “economic development” agency, eliminate other wasteful expenses like its tax-funded “news” paper, stop wasting tax money on empty buildings, and lower taxes and controls across the board to encourage free enterprise.
Last year I wrote about how Westminster declared the mall blighted. Such a move can be a prelude to the use of eminent domain or “tax increment financing,” which essentially refunds property taxes. I do not know whether Westminster’s “economic development” agency intends to pursue either of those courses. (The Colorado legislature has tightened up eminent domain standards, which might have some impact in this case.)
Today Karen Groves wrote a fawning article about the city’s demolished building for the Denver Post’s “Your Hub.” She does add this interesting detail: “City Manager Brent McFall said the city is going through negotiations with its development partner, Steiner and Associates.”
The city’s payment of nearly $1.5 million for a demolished building and empty store seems remarkably like corporate welfare for Steiner and Associates. Because, in today’s controlled economy, there is simply no room for a free market.