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Whose TIRZ?

My reaction to this story about whether some development projects that didn’t benefit from getting a TIRZ designation might have been better suited for it than some that did get that benefit is that as long as there are those who get and those who don’t we’ll always have those questions. Maybe that’s an argument for doing away with TIRZes entirely (I suspect such a proposal would not go very far) or for making the rules about them more objective, but I don’t think you’ll ever be able to remove subjective evaluations and, yes, politics from consideration. I also don’t think comparing two recent projects will tell us much, since frankly either of them could have gone either way.

As for the case in question here, there’s no doubt that Sawyer Street needs massive improvements between I-10 and Washington Avenue. Between the successful Sawyer Heights development and the new housing springing up on the side roads, what used to be a low-traffic street for mostly trucks is now heavily used, both to access what’s now there and as a cut-through to I-45 by those who want to avoid the horrible I-10 to I-45 interchange. It’s likely to get busier as the industrial lots in the area get sold off and redeveloped. I believe a proposal to fix and widen Sawyer Street is in the CIP for District H; all I can say is the sooner the better. Perhaps we’d have gotten a good result faster if Sawyer Heights’ TIRZ plan had been accepted, and perhaps we’ll get a better result this way, I don’t know. As long as it happens and gets done right, that’s what will matter.

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