Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wilmette's latest village pipe dream

Wilmette Beacon. Trib Local. See for yourselves. From the Wilmette Village "Master Plan"(Ugly boxy meets faux French provincial):
Many noted that the Village Center lacks the 24-hour activity and vibrancy seen in other comparable suburban downtowns.
Really? You want vibrancy live in bankrupt Chicago. Go to Old Orchard.

Wilmette is a small town, with narrow, cobbled streets and historic homes under a leafy canopy. We host and benefit from small, family businesses. And we can't afford pricey schemes from the village that will raise our taxes in some ephemeral pursuit of tax revenues always paid by the "other guy".

How much did Mallinckrodt cost us? (New empire building contemplated by the Park District as well) And you can bet the schools will be holding out their hands soon too.

Spare us from this enlightenment--cut the village staff and save us some pension money. We need it for our own non-subsidized retirement.

More here, a recent case in point:
The article even hints to the real problem-- The bigger backdrop for the drama is the overbuilding that has devastated the retail industry (at left, an empty furniture store in Chicago's far western*suburbs in 2009).

The Chicago region is “phenomenally over-stored,” said Stan Nitzberg, a principal at Mid-America Real Estate Corp. in Oakbrook Terrace. It's the same story nationally. The vacancy rate for U.S. shopping centers, from strip malls to super-regional malls, stood at more than 11 percent in the first quarter of this year — the highest it's been since 1983, when data were first collected, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a New York City-based trade group.

The reason that stores fail is that we have too many. The biggest offender in allowing too many stores are the idiotic money grubbing municipalities that see the 1% or so that the get in sales tax kick backs as the salve at allows them to over pay everyone from. "Village Managers" to police chiefs to ditch diggers and give them all FAT pensions while attempting to bamboozle residents into believing that because property taxes are not going up things are all rosy.

The latest fad that is contributing to the mess is hhe so-called mixed use developments where a builder throws some hideous condo things up that are way too tall but has retail space on the street level. The "promise" is that high ticket retails (like jewelers) will fill the space and sales tax will flow like Class V rapids, instead the beleaguered leasing agent has to cut a deal to get some breakfast in their that struggles with undocumented dish washers...
A pipe dream.

...As for Green Bay Rd., the so-called village traffic "improvements" have managed to create a both a bottleneck for cars and an unsafe pedestrian environment. And narrowing Wilmette Avenue was truly a genius move.

Yes, the village is envisioning seniors riding their bikes around town 24/7. Vibrantly.

P.S. From the master plan: While the market for additional development is evident, it is unlikely to occur without public subsidies and/or incentives... Oh yeah, it's all very evident.

P.P.S. From one of my friends:
The Wilmette Village Board should remember that Marie Antoinette also built a French village, and look how well that turned out for her. And, she did not even use TIF financing.

No comments: