Here's Joel Kotkin:
- AIDED BY MAYOR Antonio Villaraigosa, downtown Los Angeles' boosters are poised to dip again into the pockets of taxpayers to help finance a splashy new project. The cost this time is up to $300 million in loans, tax breaks and fee waivers for a $750-million, 54-story complex â€“ including a 876-room Marriott Marquis, a posh 124-room Ritz-Carlton and 216 luxury condos â€“ across from the Convention Center.
The Convention Center has been a consistent money loser for years, costing the city $30 million annually in debt service. Even Villaraigosa calls it a "white elephant."
And this pachyderm has been to the public trough before. In 1988, the city financed a $500-million expansion of the center based on promises that a bigger and more modern facility would catapult L.A. into that elite circle of cities that thrive on the convention business.
Kotkin references a Brookings study, which dismantles the economic case for publicly financed convention centers.
- So if the hotel subsidy doesn't make economic sense, who benefits from the largesse? The biggest winner from the new public investment stands to be billionaire Phil Anschutz, whose $2.5-billion, 27-acre L.A. Live project â€“ billed as "Times Square West" â€“ is slated to be built adjacent to Staples Center. The refracted prestige of a new Ritz Carlton and luxury condos in the neighborhood would add luster to Anschutz's project, the proposed home of the West Coast headquarters of ESPN and a Grammy Award museum.
Whole thing here.
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