In Bel-Ridge, a combination of the municipality and a rent-seeking developer are contributing to blight in the area.
First, of course, the municipality promised the developer land backed by seizure:
A couple of years earlier, Bel-Ridge had approved a redevelopment plan for a 78-acre swath of the city. The developer, Clayco, can acquire property by eminent domain.
The developer isn’t moving on the development because of the economy:
Matt Prickett, a development manager with Clayco, says the Bel-Ridge project is on hold because of the soft economy. It was envisioned as a major retail center, and retailers aren’t in an expansion mode.
“The market is what it is,” Prickett said.
Funny, I don’t expect a company that relies on seizure by force of private property instead of messy, meddlesome purchasing through, I don’t know, the market, understands what the market is.
As a result, a landowner who wants to renovate his property is in a bind:
A year ago, the Hood’s store on Natural Bridge Road was an eyesore. The windows were boarded up, the roof leaked and the parking lot was full of potholes.
Mike Hood, the owner, candidly says the city of Bel-Ridge probably could have condemned the building years ago, or at least cited it for multiple code violations. But it didn’t, and Hood launched a major renovation after buying the discount home-improvement store in January from his father, Ernest.
Three-quarters of the way into that $1 million project, Hood’s has a new roof, new glass, a repaved parking lot and new bathrooms. A shop being built in one corner will cut countertop materials to customers’ specifications.
Assuming he’s right about the market for discounted cabinets and flooring, Hood’s investment should assure the store of a long and prosperous future. But, three months into his renovations, Hood learned of a complication: A couple of years earlier, Bel-Ridge had approved a redevelopment plan for a 78-acre swath of the city. The developer, Clayco, can acquire property by eminent domain.
That means Hood, like owners of other businesses along Natural Bridge and the homes to the north, could have his property taken by force. A court proceeding would determine the property’s market value, but Hood might not get back the money he’s putting into the store. In all likelihood, he also wouldn’t be compensated for what he sees as the store’s potential.
Advice from the Clayco mouth:
As for the wisdom of investing $1 million in a store that Clayco could buy and tear down, Prickett said he’d impart the same advice he gives to homeowners: “We encourage them to make the necessary investments to maintain the health and safety of their property.”
That’s just precious. Of course, anyone on that land right now is just a squatter with actual responsibilities, according to Clayco and Bel-Ridge.
Meanwhile, the area in question will go to seed because macroplanners prevent individuals from sprucing it up. As a result, Bel-Ridge makes its own blight. As do many of these private/”public” deals.
UPDATE: Thanks to gimlet for pointing out I called Bel-Ridge Bel-Nor in the title and intro paragraph. Crikey, what’s with the municipalities naming themselves similarly? Bel-Ridge/Bel-Nor, Vinita Park/Vinita Terrace, etc.