Letter To The Editor: Regarding Tonight’s Council Work Session

By DAVE FOX
Los Alamos

Richard Skolnik, in his logical March 7 letter to the Los Alamos Daily Post (link), asked on what basis I expressed approval of the County Council’s proposal to purchase the CB Fox and Reel Deal buildings with the stated purpose of being able to provide, by legal means, for redevelopment by a developer willing and able to (1) contract with the County to alter the structure or the site, in order to make the most of the opportunity to fill unmet community needs.

Mr. Skolnik wondered, in effect, whether I had data “the rest of us haven’t seen”; and why I was “so approving” of the County proposal to purchase the CB Fox and Reel Deal buildings.

In a nutshell, I have no data. But I positively agree with him that getting an exhaustive list of relevant data is the first order of business, most especially in order to specify the mix of uses that will produce the most probable sustainable long term net returns to:

(1) each of the business occupants of the building;

(2) reasonable rent for business and non-business occupants; and

(3) positive net returns to county government, and (4) impart also, genuine street-side pleasure downtown and community pride.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES: (1) The County, answerable to the citizens unlike a developer, has control over the building design outcome. (2) It should be considered crucial that physical changes be guided by the mix of uses to which the place is to be put– an outcome the County can assure.

And so: the mix needs to be identified by rigorous research contracted for by the County and which answers at least these two questions:

What goods & services do County residents want to be able to buy locally, but can’t currently.

What’s the degree of likelihood that they will buy them locally vs. online or elsewhere.

Rigorous research means breakdowns for each identified class of goods by at least relevant sub-sets of: age, gender, income, family size, location (Los Alamos, White Rock), years of education, how spare time is spent.

The ultimate intent of research: to enable creation of scenarios of estimated costs, increase or recovery of lost revenues, and scenarios of economic outcome. Proven excellence of a chosen research firm is critical.

With an extensive professionally developed knowledge base, a developer, including the current owner of the CB Fox building, would be able and justified to take the project on, including the County-as-developer (if that is what it comes to)? Financing, if needed, would be data-based to a desirable extent.

These are the sorts of questions that need to be answered if the projects are to be developed strategically.

Such data needs to take clear precedence as guide to decisions with such long-run potentially positive impact.

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