Moving the Goal Posts and Dropping the Ball on 195

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Old claim that government made to push debt for bonds on the land freed up by moving I-195:

The commission, and ultimately the state, is expected to use proceeds from the sale of individual parcels to pay back the principal and interest on those bonds.

New claim that government is making, as it prepares for the bond payments to escalate with not a single parcel of land having been sold, rather than given away:

[Peter McNally, executive director of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission,] expects the Wexford project to be done sometime in 2019. By that time, he thinks developers will be clamoring for a piece of the land where the highway once stood.

We all know the next step.  The Wexford project sucked up some free land and millions of dollars in concessions to the company with the argument that it would spark additional development.  Instead, every developer who comes to the commission interested in land will want it for free as a bare minimum of the government’s concession in negotiations.  More likely, buyers will want tax gifts, too.

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Remember this moment, though, so we’ll have grounds to complain when an “unexpectedly” slow start to the Wexford-driven economic explosion can’t be denied.  At that time, we’ll once again have reason to restate the simple principle that government shouldn’t impose “a very specific vision” for development, as Kim Kalunian puts it in her article (second link above).

Let the land sell as the market values it.  If the government wants to take action to make it more valuable, it should make all land in Rhode Island more valuable by reducing taxes and eliminating regulations.  Instead, we get this toxic mix of crony deals and the vanity of central planners who want to experiment on a statewide scale with our money and our lives.

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  • Monique Chartier

    “By that time, he thinks developers will be clamoring for a piece of the land where the highway once stood.”

    What??? This is a palpably lame claim. Nothing will have changed by then other than, as Justin said, the governor giving the land away for free.

    But that’s not the only expense with developing this land. The other huge expense, as all developers well know (but our state officials are carefully ignoring) is construction cost. Remember, it is as expensive to build in Rhode Island as it is Boston and New York, incredibly. So getting the land for free WILL NOT be enough to entice real developers with real projects absent serious subsidies from taxpayers (in addition to giving them the land for free, of course).

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