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.
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