Thursday, September 23, 2004

Shoppes at Grand Prairie and the Promenade

Some famous and not so famous quotations:

“I really didn’t say everything I said.” (Yogi Berra)

Now let’s go back to what people where saying about the proposed Promenade Shopping Mall in 1999.

“The total ultimate taxpayer cost of the mall (Promenade) as proposed by the Agreement between the City of Peoria and the developers, will be about $99,930,000.00. If the Agreement were amended to remove the City’s obligations to provide on site improvements and Sales Tax Rebates, as recommended in E and F of above, the total taxpayer cost would still be $70,900,000.00.” (Bob McCord, President and Board Chairman, Illinois Mutual Insurance Company, 11/24/99)

“I suggest this community should let their elected officials know how they feel about all the ways Peoria can grow and still be affordable.” (Merle Widmer – PJS 1999)

“Bottom line for me is that that this project represents real investment in and real job opportunities for this community. Very few opportunities of this magnitude are offered to cities: let’s not miss it.” (Jan Wright Vergon, President of Illinois Business Publishers 11/30/99)

“8.23% of Peoria households, that’s 17,246 people here, receive some public assistance. The Promenade will create entry level jobs that will help with the transition of unemployed people into the workforce. It would be hard to imagine that anyone would be against the advances this (Promenade) has for the Peoria area.” (Sandy Moldovan, President, Clark Engineers, 11/30/99.)

“Our market studies indicate that the Promenade development would cause a significant sales transfer from Bergner’s Sheridan Village store.” (Paul E. Ruby, senior vice-president, Milwaukee based Saks, Inc. owner of Bergner’s)

“The results of too many stores chasing too few customers are clear. All you are doing is going after market share from other stores” (Daniel Nordstrom, Co-President, Nordstrom Department store, WSJ 5/28/1996)

“It’s a vast, zero sum game. They rob the public of funds that could be used to pay for better schools and roads.” (Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, 11/21/99, JS)

“I’m convinced that the strategy of the opponents of this project (Promenade) is to confuse, divide, delay and ultimately conquer. They’ve done a pretty good job at it.” (Then Mayor Bud Grieves, 8/8/99, Observer) In a headline in the JS dated approximately 12/20/99, then Mayor Grieves is quoted after the council declined to go along with his proposed $35.2 million mall-assistance package, “it’s the same as killing it. I think you know that.” (Addressing the city council when they voted 7-4 to delay a decision until 1/11.2000)

In a story in the Observer on 8/8/01, writer DeWayne Bartels said the developer was asking the city to rebate two-third of the property, sales and utility taxes generated for the project. (Promenade)

An ad appeared in the Journal Star on 11/29/99 listed the City Council people who were pro-subsidy as being of course Mayor Grieves, Charles Grayeb, John Morris Camille Gibson and Christopher Duncan. Morris and Grayeb are still on the City Council. Eric Turner is listed as undecided. Jim Ardis who is running for mayor was shown as against the tax subsidy.

“I believe District 150’s risk in this project is much greater than any other participant.” (Bradley University professor Robert Scott, JS, 1999)

So what happened back in 1999-00? The Promenade was not built so the developer came back with a new project on the same site now known as the “Shoppes at Grand Prairie.” Lo and behold, the Shoppes were built with some but not nearly all the subsidies requested when the project was to be developed as the Promenade.

You have some extremely important elections coming. You will be tested to determine who is pro-growth at any cost and those who want to keep the community affordable. I have earned the disdain of some of the leadership of this community by my support of the capitalist form of government, who believes in not subsidizing one competitor in favor of another. I believe most in this community agree with me but by the clever manipulation of facts, some leaders, especially on the Chamber of Commerce Committee and the Journal Star, try to paint me as anti-growth. I also earned the undying disdain of the developer who stood to make millions of dollars more at taxpayer’s expense.

When I was first elected to the County Board, this developer wrote me a letter reminding me that I won by a small majority. Wonder who she will support for President, since Bush also won by a small majority?

“The fault of our cities are not the fault of decadence or impending decline, but exuberant vibrancy crowding it’s way forward with tremendous pressure” (author unknown)

Consider this as a lead in to my next subject “the Pere”, and one day I will tell the complete saga of the Riverplex and all those who are involved in trying to cover up the “facts.”

Note the article about the Riverplex in the JS by Sarah Okeson today. Note that she says “membership” not memberships!! Big difference, my friend has 9 members on one paying membership. If the Riverplex figures are correct, remember that one-third of the members or memberships are still free. I stand by my figures for 2003, $6,000.00 to $7,000.00 a day losses. Page 59 of the 2003 Park Financial statement shows a loss of $577,171.00 by the Riverplex fitness partner. Add in the other half the Park is responsible for and it totals $1,154.000.00 loss plus the approximately $850,000.00 principal and interest which the Park now says should not be figured in the cost of the Riverplex. Then you still have the $135,000.00 of operating expense for the Riverplex buried in a new $3,000,000.00 plus new bond issued in January, 2004. Then you have to guess what amount was credited by the park to the RiverPlex to reimburse them for the one-third free members. Not hard to figure!!


Anonymous said...

It amazes me how the superhighway was built so fast going out to the Shops at GrandPrarie. How did that rate when other needed widing has not occured, or only to some poor degree. IE: Allen Road.

Merle Widmer said...

Reply to Anonymous,

Projects in the hands of the "right" people always move faster. "Those who have the gold, rule".
Remember when Mickey Mantle got his liver transplant moving ahead of others in line and also dying? Consider if Hillary had gotten her health plan in the USA modeled after Canada, would Bill still be waiting in line like they do in Canada? I think not!