Wednesday letters: Slow down on Bull Street

July 3, 2013 

— The proposed Bull Street development will be a huge windfall for Columbia — if the projections are correct.

But, has any city ever paid for the water, sewer or streets for a developer? I asked several developers, and none had ever heard of this. The city is committing $30 million and up to $40 million more for two parking garages and maybe a baseball stadium.

Attorney Toby Ward asked the mayor at Monday’s council meeting where the money is coming from. I did not hear any answer.

I want Bob Hughes to successfully develop this property so all will benefit. Maybe instead of this $30 million to $70 million city donation we should consider a tax increment financing district like we did in the Vista. While I hope the best for Mr. Hughes, there are deep-pocketed developers in the Midlands who could do a great job with TIF money for 10 years.

Of course, preservationists’ demands might be part of the reason Mr. Hughes needs all this money. I am all for preserving old buildings when it makes sense, but I believe people are more important than buildings.

Three council members wanted to slow down to review all this, but the mayor suggests impending doom if the deal isn’t done soon. It gets complicated when you promise up to $70 million in unexplained public funding. Please slow down.

Jay Graham

Columbia

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