Down at the Budget Hearings at the Metro Council, they don’t always focus on boring budget issues. Sometimes they rehash fundamental differences in opinion on the way the government works.
Kevin Kramer is taking up the cause of CityBlock today, challenging city economic development boss Bruce Traughber on the city’s support of Fourth Street Live at the expense of local businesses like CityBlock. Kramer wanted to know what the city is doing for local merchants, given its loud, public support for Cordish.
Traughber, rather than answer Kramer’s question, launched into a history of Fourth Street and why it’s so important to local government.
He said he tried go get CityBlock owners to go along with a TIF for expansion, resolved a sign controversy and that they worked with CityBlock “a whole lot.” He even said that acquiring a garage across the street was meant to help CityBlock survive. Then he said the owners were still blaming the smoking ban for their demise.
I don’t have to call Ward Plauche to know he would disagree with each of those points.
Traughber went on about how important having chain restaurants in the heart of downtown is for luring tourists and how there would have been a block hole there after Oxford Properties, the former owner, announced it wouldn’t continue.
But the truth is the city did give loads of financial incentives to Cordish, and CityBlock was put in an impossible position for survival.