I invite any City Council member to explain what the City or its citizens gain by giving away its land to private developers. That’s essentially what the Redevelopment Agency (aka City Council) did on August 9 when it voted to use $6 million of Affordable Housing funds to assist the troubled development at 4043 Irving Place.
After paying $3.1 million for the property two years ago, the developer received $577, 000 back from the Agency when the project was scaled back. Now the Agency will be returning the rest of the purchase price in the form of a ‘grant’ or ‘forgivable loan’ which will net the developer some $300,000 and leave the city with . . . nothing.
Originally planned as a 28 unit upscale condominium project it has run into financial trouble. But, someone saw a pot of money sitting around in the City’s affordable housing fund and got the idea to add an affordable housing element to the project in order to tap into those funds.
Some people argue that the proposal is not really affordable housing at all, but basically a ruse to use the City’s affordable housing set aside money as a slush fund to bail out failing projects. I don’t know enough about the ins and outs of building affordable housing to say.
What is clear, though is that the Agency has given away $3 million dollars or our property in return for . . . what?