Cities are desperate for development and Sandusky is no different. Sandusky doesn’t seem to know how to attract the right kind of developer who won’t take advantage of the situation.
The local groups feel a need to push the city in the right direction when it comes to development. The groups can sometimes make matters worse by throwing anything up against the wall to see if it will stick without considering the consequences of what the project t will do to the city’s budget. The right kind of developer will not demand any financial backing from the city other then tax abatement, TIF, revolving loan, or altering zoning for the project.
It is the nature of the developers to press their demands to the limit to see if the city is desperate enough to fulfill their every request. The city needs to recognize the limits it can go to assist a developer without it costing the city to the point where it has to lay off people and cut services in order to accommodate development.
Another concern for the city is demolishing commercial buildings due to the structures causing a nuisance. The private property owners have caught on to the idea that the city will shoulder the responsibility of taking down their buildings. Of course, the demolition expense will go on the owner’s property taxes and the city would be first in line to get paid, but the chances are slim the city will be able to recoup the loss. Sometimes CDBG money can be used, but it seems the city is depending too much on CDBG money for these projects and not using the CDBG money in more useful ways.
Some of the vacant building owners can afford to clean up their own properties without the city’s help. The city needs to be more aggressive in getting the property owners to take care of their property to a point that the building doesn’t start to deteriorate and become a nuisance. If the owners can afford to buy the property, they can afford to do something productive with the property instead of allowing it to deteriorate all in the name of investment property for some time in the future.
Demolition cost the city a lot of money and the grants are running dry to take care of all the buildings that need to be demolished, especially, when it comes to the old factories setting around costing a half a million dollars or more to take down. Placing a band aid on the situation doesn’t help much if the core of the problem goes unchecked.
It is a shame that the Brownfields Committee has been suspended due to budget cuts. The committee was instrumental in pushing to get the old factories sites cleared for demolition. The group started to gain momentum with the monumental task of assessing the properties before it was suspended. At least some of the properties have been cleaned up so development can take place without the developer having to be concerned with asbestos, demolition, and doing the environmental cleanups, which can run into a great deal of money for the developer. I hope he committee can reconvene at a later time to complete the job that they started.