Right now, as I eat my lunch, the Industrial Development Board of the City of New Orleans is holding a public hearing on the issuance of a variety of bonds. Some of these are “Gulf Opportunity Zone Revenue Bonds,” so I guess that’s some of that federal Katrina money. Some of this stuff I knew about already and don’t necessarily object to. But one item in particular caught my eye:
1. not exceeding $4,500,000 Gulf Opportunity Zone Revenue Bonds (Carrollton Revitalization, L.L.C. Project) Series 2007, to finance the construction of an approximately 15,000 sq. ft. retail store at the northwest intersection of S. Carrollton Ave. and S. Claiborne Ave. in New Orleans, Louisiana, the initial owner of which will be COCRF Investor I, L.L.C. for the ultimate benefit of Carrollton Revitalization, L.L.C. and the expected initial tenant, Walgreens;
In other words, a $4.5 million tax break to build a Walgreen’s. (Edit: I probably misstated this severely. See the comments, and please forgive my financial ineptitude.)
That’s small potatoes compared to the $67 million G.O. Zone bond for the Film Factory. But a world class film studio, owned and operated by a Louisiana company, can be justified as positive economic development. (Whether it lives up to its promise is another question, of course.) I don’t see how a retail drug store, part of a national chain, is a wise use of recovery dollars.
Especially considering Walgreen’s has been such a bad neighbor.
Interestingly, today’s hearing is being held in the local law offices of Adams & Reese. Interestingly, Adams & Reese is Walgreen’s lawyer.
I’ll be the first to admit my grasp of economics is tenuous at best. Maybe this is all legitimate. But it seems kind of funny to me. Funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha.
Anyway, I just thought my friends in the rest of the country would like to know how we are spending your tax dollars to rebuild our city.