The Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust has sold its parking lot for $5.5 million to a company that promises to build a high-rise with apartments, retail shops and a grocery.
That’s great – if this private project is built with private money.
Where Tulsa has gone wrong in the past is providing government subsidies to private investors to try to attract development Downtown.
It’s government picking winners and losers.
No one can argue against downtown development using private dollars. But city officials for more than a decade have been subsidizing a baseball park, luxury apartments, a basketball arena, parking garages and other nongovernmental projects with taxpayer money.
Elected city officials and chambercrats have a fixation with having a supermarket downtown. They reason that a grocery sitting among the bars and gin joints and office buildings will entice millennials to live in over-priced apartments. Maybe it would.
The idea seems to be to emulate Europe by densifying the Tulsa population downtown and forcing use of public transportation (by eliminating parking spaces).
But traditionally you shop for groceries near where you live. Besides the convenience, a short drive or walk gives you a better chance to make it home before your ice cream melts.
Supermarkets don’t survive in North Tulsa for one reason – they can’t make money. They are not profitable for a variety of reasons. Free food is not a constitutional right and government should stay out of the business of locating grocery stores.
The PAC sale looks good (unless you are a show patron looking for a parking space). But Tulsa should not subsidize a grocery just because it is downtown.