Tuesday, April 29, 2008

County And Pabst Mall Developer Playing $25 Million Game Of Chicken

Imagine the temerity of those Waukesha County officials - - asking for the names of the stores headed for the already-delayed-once-still-not-ready-for-launching Pabst Farms shopping mall before they release $1.75 million tax dollars to help build an I-94 interchange to deliver customers to said mall and stores.

The mall developer promises the stores will be more than a collection of your basic Big Boxes that is truly worthy of a county subsidy and also that larger helping of public cash - - $21.1 million in state highway funds to be expended on this boutique interchange.

And be the veritable regional draw promised by the developer, because if it isn't, it makes no sense to commit millions in public dollars, as budgets are about to be trimmed in Madison, (and don't forget that Ocononomoc is also in for the bargain basement sum of $400,000), to a special interchange if it's only to serve a glorified strip mall.

Granted that the developer has to match the county share - - $1.75 million - - 7% of the total - - and it looks like the developer has to show its cards before the county releases the funding, which, in turn, makes the state's contribution a "go."

Maybe the first mall developer that stepped back from the initial big, regional mall concept knew that a recession was coming, fueled by spiking gas prices that make traveling across a region in search of goods and services at an upscale shopping destination something of a costly anachronism.

Maybe Waukesha County would be better off using that $1.75 million to fill some potholes, or put more buses on the streets, and the state can take $21 million-plus off the books and erase a bit of that shortfall in state spending.

No comments: