Unfinished business

25Mar09

Most of the new construction near me was already close to completion when the financial meltdown hit full boil. Those buildings were so far along that halting work made no sense. However, there’s one building nearby that was only 20 or so stories into the 90 that were planned, leaving a stubby shell of a building in an otherwise gleaming downtown district.

If the builder runs out of money, and nobody else wants to buy up the property, what should the city do? Sure, the bank that financed it will assume ownership, but what about the partially built structure sitting on the lot? One approach might be for the city to take over the project. They could build it out enough to make the existing shell usable, and then turn it into a city university campus, library, or other public venue. Then, once the economy picks up again, they can sell or lease the property to someone who wants to resume construction.

In return for providing necessary capital in desperate times, the city would be paid back handsomely. After all, they would have acquired the property at a bargain price. Is this type of plan even remotely feasible? I have no idea. But anything is better than letting an uninhabitable stump sit there and decay while everyone waits for things to get better.



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