We’re a little confused by the appearance of three different news stories this weekend.
The Sunday morning paper carries an extensive, highly upbeat story on the downtown real estate market. One local real estate developer is very vocal about the situation, giving much credit to the local passion for "public-private partnerships" and their contribution to economic development. (Of course it is natural that where Santa stops frequently, he is very welcome.)
The IBJ which arrived in our mail box yesterday also carried a couple of stories which are at least distantly related.
Most of two pages are dedicated to a story headlined "Malls alive" which gives an equally optimistic tale of mall operations generally. The opening sentence of the article on page 17A reads: "The future of malls actually looks quite bright despite the rise of online shopping."
But this is where the signals get a little confusing. On page 6A, in the "Retail" section, this headline shows up: "City, Simon strike deal to keep mall anchor."
We are told that a three year, annual "rent reduction" of $300,000 will "...keep Circle Centre mall’s lone remaining anchor store from leaving."
Apparently the city will forego nearly a million dollars of revenue to maintain a major retail presence in a mall which has been touted as the life blood of downtown Indianapolis.
Wha’sup? The story gives no indication of the reason for the action. Nor is there any indication of the origin of the proposal. Are we now having retail stores join the "pay-me-or-I’ll-walk" pattern of life? What’s really going on downtown in the way of economic activity? Are sports teams, bars, hotels and real estate developers the only real winners?
But, please don’t let these little blips worry you. Other things are still normal. An adjacent story on page 6A tells us that, following the multi-million dollar rehab of the Coliseum at the State Fairgrounds, a sponsor has been found for "naming rights" on the building, the home of the Indy Fuel hockey team.
Turns out that Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance Co. will pay $6 million for a ten-year contract with the Indiana State Fair Commission (ISFC). This where the story gets reassuring that public officials are maintaining the old operational status quo. The $6 million will go to the hockey team!
We're told, "Fuel officials handled the deal." No kidding! Looks like the ISFC goes to the CIB "are you sure that's enough" school of negotiation!!