The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, August 15, 2005

How Private Development Should Work 

In the aftermath of the Kelo decision, there has been much talk and publicity of government taking private property in order to give it to another private holder. In fact, Bizzy Blog (H/T to Volokh Conspiracy) has a great post talking about the backlash to the backlash of Kelo (yes, you read that right). It talks about the argument among Kelo supporters that many conservatives have supported this sort of taking as a prime example of large corporate enterprise helping poor neighborhoods raise themselves out of poverty. Bizzy Blog rightfully argues that what conservatives have mostly argued for is preferential tax treatment (or simply across the board tax reductions to this end), not government taking.

I think in the wake of this sort of argument, it would be helpful to point a shining example of cleaning up blight, the right way, in Milwaukee. The Journal has an article this morning about a proposed development plan for a gated community in the inner city:

For as long as anyone can remember, elders at Way of the Cross Missionary Baptist Church have been praying for something close to a miracle for a barren stretch of land between N. Teutonia Ave. and W. Hopkins St. near their church, on Milwaukee's north side.

The vision now taking shape for this former factory site along W. Center St. is unprecedented in Milwaukee: a $3.5 million community of 24 single-family homes, surrounded by a fence and shrubs and sharing a private road , with access controlled by gates.
The development is contingent on several factors, including a transfer of the land from the city to Way of the Cross, soil cleanup, a site review and other possible changes before construction could begin, the Department of City Development says.
The developers are not seeking government subsidies. They intend to finance the more than $300,000 it will take to clear the soil of toxins themselves, without seeking soil remediation funds from the city, in keeping with their policy of maintaining control of projects with the firm and the community groups it works with. They're in talks with Columbia Savings & Loan Association and North Milwaukee State and Legacy banks to provide mortgages for prospective buyers.

Of course the article concentrates on the fact that it's an evil gated community and how it would be the first in the city, and destroy the image of an open free access community. The article also makes noises of opposition, and proposed efforts to block its development, and questions whether a gated community is the way to go. I'm sorry if you don't think a gated community fits in your grand plan for Milwaukee, but if people are willing to do it, shouldn't that be the most important factor?

Here we have a private firm, willing to buy an empty lot, privately develop the land on it's own, and already has a lot of interest from potential home buyers... and people are complaining? Folks... this is how it's supposed to work! I hope this effort is successful... at least they seem to be going about it the right way. I find any opposition to this plan quite amazing, especially after the Pabst City debacle which would have required millions of dollars in public funding. What would you rather have, a nice gated community with decent homes, or a barren empty lot? Sadly for some people, the latter choice seems better.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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