I hate this kind of stuff. I really hate it when the Governor of my state is doing it. I especially
really hate it when he's the guy I voted for...
From the Delco Times:
Editorial: KOZs weren't designed with Comcast in mind
In theory, it's a sound idea. And, economically speaking, it kills two birds with one stone.
We are talking about Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zones. They can be a powerful lure to draw business - and jobs - into blighted areas.
It takes a powerful lure to draw new business, new commerce, new vitality to many of the state's rundown neighborhoods. Bestowing massive tax breaks is one way to do it.
There is no shortage of neighborhoods in Philadelphia that could use the benefits of a KOZ. That's not what officials there have in mind. They want a KOZ all right, but not in the Badlands. Unless you consider Center City blighted. No jokes, please.
Officials want to designate a downtown portion for all of the same generous tax breaks that come with the KOZ designation. That's the general idea. And in general, we don't like it.
But there's more to it. Specifically, this proposal is being floated so that Liberty Property Trust can build a high-rise building at 17th Street and JFK Boulevard. Feeling a little queasy yet? Guess who they're building it for? Comcast.
You heard it right. A tax-free home for the nation's largest cable television outfit. The same people who just bid a gazillion bucks for the Disney Corp.
Mayor Street is on board with this. So is Gov. Ed Rendell. And there is an argument to be made. Comcast indicates it would add maybe 2,000 jobs at the site and occupy half the facility. Other tenants would be lured to fill the rest of the high-rise.
That many jobs are nothing to sniff at. And there is always the possibility that Comcast could be lured out of the city. Maybe even to New Jersey.
Still, this proposal is simply too hard to swallow. It is too much, with too narrow a benefit. In short, it looks like a sweetheart deal for Comcast while other center-city property owners are left on the outside, looking in.
Other articles about this in PA are floating around as well...
Pittsburgh post Gazette
The Philly Inquirer
Ugh. Does Philly really need Comcast that bad? And if so, could they at least make this deal in a truly blighted area of the City?