Well, here we go again.
Looks like now Cordish is seeking to run out one of the more popular entertainment venues in the Power and Light - Raglan Road. According to Joyce Smith's report, Raglan Road owes over $600,000 in back rent and other charges and is now in violation of their lease.
Smith also did the math, and figured that the upscale Irish Restaurant's lease was set up to be more than $49,000 a month in rent and other payments.
Um, wow. That's a lot of $6 beers.
This news follows the closing of Famous Dave's Barbeque only a few months ago.
This leads me to ask the question: At what point is the P&L obligated to lower rent to allow these businesses to stay open?
Each year, the city's tax payer's have to pay out several million dollars to pay off the bonds that are not covered by tax revenue from the P&L District. However, while the P&L isn't meeting tax revenue projections, it shouldn't be lost on a lot of folks that a fair number of the buildings in the P&L remain unused (incluing a prime piece of real estate directly across from the Sprint Center and other great locations on the same block where Dave's BBQ and Ted's Montana Grill were once located). So while the city's taxpayers pick up the tab for the bonds, tax revenue is left on the table because the district is not full and the city is not seeing revenue from these empty business sites -- and they sit empty because the businesses aren't able to meet the extremely high rents.
So what about proposing a tax on empty businesses in downtown? If a building is sitting empty for, say, 3 months (or six, this is negotiable), can the city tax these buildings based on unrecognized tax potential for the city?
This would help encourage building owners from being content to let buildings sit empty (not earning tax revenue) and to lower rents to realistic rates for what the demand really is for these locations.
I've written about this idea before -- mostly in relation to old buildings that are allowed to sit empty for decades and then end up destroyed due to lack of upkeep -- but I think it certainly should apply to viable entertainment districts as well. It's past time for the city to start holding the P&L owners accountable for the tax revenue their not generating through their empty store-fronts....at taxpayer expense.