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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

ICAP to Rosebud Building: Best LAIC Could Do?

The Inter-Lakes Community Action Program has agreed to buy the core of the old Rosebud property from the city of Madison. If I understand Chuck Clement's report correctly, ICAP will finally own its own building in Madison, after over 40 years of operations here.

ICAP does a lot of good work here (e.g., Head Start). I'm glad they'll have a nice new building that keeps them in a nice central location from which to serve the community. It's much better to have ICAP's workers and the people they serve downtown rather than out on the edge of town where most folks would have to drive.

However, I can't help thinking the city and the Lake Area Improvement Corporation could have done much better with the Rosebud property. The city bought the west half of that block on South Van Eps last February for $400,000. ICAP is buying it for $350,000. The city will pay for clearing the property and performing an environmental study to make sure Rosebud didn't spill any nasty stuff there.

So evidently LAIC director Dwaine Chapel has negotiated a sale in which the city (A) loses money and (B) gains no new jobs or other economic benefits. ICAP is already here, already providing services. From an economic development perspective, was there no other possible use (see #2) for that land that might have generated a better sale price and long-term sales tax and property tax revenue for the city? Downtown lot, prime location, great chance to recruit retail... and we get another service office, a welfare agency, a non-profit whose move from across the block won't add a penny to the Main Street till.

Maybe the ongoing LAIC shell game has some long-term strategy. Maybe moving ICAP kitty-wampus across the street frees up that property next to Heritage Apartments for some super-duper business opportunity... or maybe just a big garage for Mayor Hexom.

I do not begrudge ICAP their new digs. They'll make good use of the property and continue to serve the community well. But in terms of fulfilling the city's economic development mission, this deal only casts more doubt on the LAIC's ability to make a buck.


  1. ICAP said since they serve a multi-county area they may have left if they could not have found a new place since their board wants them to own their own building and they are cramped in their current location. As far as real estate ventures go, the taxpayer is on the loosing end, but thankfully those 40 jobs will stay in Madison and they may add more. The director said they may design a green building with some open space and adequate area to expand the children's day care, which currently has a waiting list. Does the deal raise the question if we (Joe Taxpayer as Sarah would say) paid too much for the building? Yes. John Hess

  2. I'm very excited about the prospect of a brand new downtown building, and an eco-friendly building at that. The last new downtown construction was probably Ed Dirksen's rebuild of the burned up bar that became Madison Drug and is now Alltel next to KJAM. This new facility will go a long way to invigorate downtown. The next challenge is to get the former Jensen/Kostboth Motors building sold that was part of the Rosebud group. That should be another $100,000 or so paid back when it sells. It probably doesn't make financial sense to sell a building for less than what we taxpayers paid for it and then demolish it at city expense, but we kept a great employer and will get a new anchor building downtown that will be built with all the latest energy-saving and eco-friendly methods known. A fine example for the rest of us downtown building owners.

  3. Thanks, Rod ---- appreciate the support, when several seem to hit the negative side more than the positive side of things. Being on the city commission is sometimes like refereeing (I have done both). Everyone is an expert and knows all about it, that is, until the pressure is on and a person becomes publicly accountable for all decisions. Nice to hear someone say that maybe someone did OK.

  4. So if I get this right, ICAP is going to tear down the old Rosebud building and put up a new "eco-friendly" building...

    In that case, that means construction jobs and money coming into local coffers. So its a boost to the economy... perhaps not as much as if a new company came in, but a boost nevertheless.


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