Property Owners Control Their Own Destiny
Here on Explore Superior, we’ve shared quite a bit of information about the Better City Superior proposals, including the possible footprint of any development. When I initially discussed the possible redevelopment of our downtown with Bruce Thompson, head of BCS, he was very clear that there are no specific boundaries where development has to go.
According to Thompson “ultimately we will only be able to piece this together with cooperation, fair compensation and critical mass land accumulation.”
What this means is that downtown is the preferred place to create new assets by way of development, and the ending design will depend on community and property owner cooperation. No home or business owner will be forced to sell their properties, and since Wisconsin does not have “eminent domain” like Minnesota, the property owners remain in control.
How Would BCS Acquire Land?
For more on how land might be acquired, please see a previous article I published on Explore Superior, “How Land Will Be Acquired for Better City Superior.” In that article, I address how properties would need to be acquired at market negotiated rates. Some purchases might be handled by the City, but more than likely the majority of properties would be acquired privately.
When I first met with Thompson late last summer, I asked him where the BCS group would like to build, and he responded by saying they had loose boundaries in the downtown that were flexible and were dependent on the agreement of property owners. Of course they would prefer to keep the footprint as cohesive as possible, but given the lack of eminent domain as a tool, the final layout is necessarily going to be variable.
The Green & Pink Zones
I want to make it clear that I created the map that displays a “green” zone and a “pink” zone of possible development. I only did so as a means of demonstrating to Superior citizens where this development might go should the State approve an Exposition District for Superior.
By the way, I chose the colors of each zone arbitrarily, so please don’t read anything into why one is green and the other pink!
The preferred area being considered (green zone) by BCS is between N 13th Street and Broadway and four blocks to the left and right of Tower Avenue. Within that zone are several going concerns, including Shorty’s, Vintage Italian Pizza and the Androy Hotel. Even Thompson’s employer National Bank of Commerce is within the zone. Those properties would not be bulldozed, but instead remain and benefit from the new assets being built around them.
A secondary focus area (pink zone) is between N. 13th Street and Belknap, four blocks on either side of Tower Avenue. Again, there are established businesses located in this area that may or may not want to relocate. Erbert & Gerbert’s is established in the building on 13th and Tower and has no plans of relocating. The building they are in is newer and a nice complement to downtown Superior and will not come down.
In fact, I understand that the building when constructed was engineered to support up to four floors. Were the BCS development to gather steam, the owners of that property could choose to go all-in and add to their building. This would be a welcome benefit of downtown redevelopment and would create new opportunities for office rental and retail.
Another example is Superior Chrysler Center which occupies several lots in what I’ve labeled the “pink” zone. They may believe this is the absolute best location for their business, or they may choose to take the opportunity to relocate elsewhere in Superior, perhaps along the south Tower corridor near Benna Ford. Bottom line, that would be their decision to make and no one else.
Kari Toyota comes up in conversation quite often, but it is my understanding that they like their current home and have no intention of moving elsewhere. As it turns out, Kari gets a significant amount of their repair business from Duluth residents because they are closer for many Toyota owners in Duluth than the Kolar dealership located up past the Miller Hill Mall. These are ultimately business decisions for commercial property owners.
To Sell Or Not To Sell
Would it behoove some property owners to sell their lots/buildings/houses to developers? Certainly…were a small home owner or commercial building owner decline to sell their property, which is of course their right, they may ultimately see the value of their property decline as it is surrounded by development.
These are decisions that everyone makes about whatever real estate they own. If an apartment complex is going up across the street from your house, will it add or detract from the value of your home?
If you own an automotive maintenance business, or have a plumbing, electrical, wood working shop, etc., would you be better served by moving to a new location that would be a better fit for your business than being in the midst of an entertainment district?
The long term viability and success of a business is dependent on the ability of their customers to find and access them. There is a reason that certain types of businesses who rely on ease of parking, and open space tend to congregate near each other.
Similarly, these are also the reasons why businesses that thrive on the type of walk-up business (restaurants, small retail shops, coffee bars, etc.) tend to locate in downtown areas that encourage sidewalk traffic coupled with convenient parking.
Why Waterfront Development Can’t Happen
Next week I will publish an article about why redevelopment CANNOT happen in the north end industrial area, and will explain why Wisconsin municipalities do not have the right to develop our shorelines in the same manner that we’ve seen in Duluth.
It has to do with state law, and shoreline maps going back to the 1890’s…