$100 Million Incentive to Move About 1 Mile

The City of Phoenix is subsidizing a mall developer to the tune of $100 million dollars.  Why?

Desperate to keep another Nordstrom store out of Scottsdale, the City
of Phoenix put together a $100 million incentive deal to lure the
upscale retailer to the new CityNorth development.

That picture emerged in Maricopa County Superior Court arguments Monday over the constitutionality of the package.

That deal bought a parking deck -- at $30,000 per parking spot.

You see, the developer and its allies in city hall were afraid that Nordstrom's might instead locate their new store waaaaayyyyy over in Scottsdale, probably at the shopping development getting started ... about a mile away and all of one exit further down loop 101, as show below or here.

Here is the gist of it:

At issue in the lawsuit is an agreement between the developers
of CityNorth and the city of Phoenix that enables the developers,
Related Urban Development and the Thomas J. Klutznick Co., to retain
half of the project's sales taxes in exchange for free public parking
spaces in a parking garage. The agreement goes for 11 years or $97.4
million, whichever occurs first.

Now, those of you who are from New York or Boston may be saying -- Hmm, free public parking.  Thats a good deal.  Well, in Phoenix, its absurd.  All the mall parking is free.  All the mall parking garages are free.  Every mall around these two locations provide free parking and parking garages.  In fact, a mall developer would get run out of town on a rail in north Scottsdale or Phoenix for even uttering the words "paid parking."  People freak out around here if the valet parking is not free.  Further, the city is trying to somehow portray that the parking is a useful asset for the community at large.  Look at the Phoenix site above.  Do you see a lot of stuff in the surrounding acres that is demanding a lot of parking?

Effectively, this is all a smoke screen for the city giving a $100 million handout to developers to build something, ie free parking, they already had to build.  And the incremental sales revenue argument is absurd.  All the wealthy Scottsdale folks who want to shop at Nordstrom's are already doing so, or are shopping at nearby Desert Ridge.  Only the worst sort of analysis would show incremental sales from this location - all it will do is shift sales around a bit.

I am reminded of my previous post on the subsidization of business relocations as a prisoners dilemma problem.