San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 3rd, 2009
Editorial: City should not subsidize Springtown entertainment proposal

By the Newstreamz editorial board

A respectable moral agent is autonomous; that is, capable of making her own rules that she will follow. A respectable moral agent also respects himself in the business arrangements he makes. After all, if someone doesn’t respect himself, no one else is going to.

Events during the last several months suggest that the City of San Marcos, guided by its city council, is neither autonomous nor self-respecting. The city too easily backs away from its own plans and is much too eager to roll over for a sucker deal that illustrates too little self regard.

The newest instance of the city’s incontinence concerns the Springtown Shopping Center, vacated in recent months after the city granted $6 million in tax abatements so Target, Bealls and JC Penny could move to the new Stone Creek Crossing near the city conference center and the outlet malls. Virtually the same councilmembers who signed away $6 million in sales tax revenues to move those stores from the center of town to the edge of town now are about to argue that the Springtown Center is blighted and must be remedied by a $5 million city incentive.

The developers at Springtown want to open an “entertainment center” including an Alamo Draft House and drinking establishments. To launch the project, they want up to $5 million in loans up front. City leaders seem quite willing to comply. After calling an emergency meeting of Economic Development San Marcos (EDSM) to consider the loan, the council placed the matter on the July 7 agenda so it can fly under the radar during a holiday weekend.

The blunders embedded in such a giveaway are almost too numerous to mention.

First, the city would be incentivizing minimum wage jobs, to say nothing of wait and bartending jobs that pay $2.13 per hour plus tips. The city’s economic development master plan, dated May 2009, says that “Economic development efforts must promote diversification and improvements in per capita income.” This city is replete with retail jobs for college students and thoroughly lacking breadwinner jobs for college graduates. The Springtown incentive is more of the same, and certainly not worth $5 million in city tax money. The city should hang onto that $5 million until someone comes along with a serious proposal to produce living wage employment.

Second, the Springtown location is prime for private development. It is curious that councilmembers now worried that the property is blighted didn’t consider that before incentivising the stores to move down the highway. The Hopkins Street and Thorpe Lane area is a gateway connecting Interstate-35, downtown and Texas State. It is not a podunk needing a shot in the arm from the government.

After moving its San Marcos Target to Stone Creek, Dayton Hudson now owns a vacant building worth $4.2 million on the city property tax rolls. The city doesn’t need to bail out Dayton Hudson. In short time, Dayton Hudson will tire of the holding costs of the property and sell. The city should allow the situation to resolve itself privately.

Third, it’s unfortunate that city policy should be bent as it is on subsidizing national and out-of-town chain businesses to set up in competition with locally owned businesses. It’s hard enough for local, indigenous businesses to survive against turn-key competitors who aren’t subsidized by the city. If we desire a community with unique local character, we don’t make it happen by subsidizing chain businesses.

Fourth, to make a related point, are we San Marcians so little endowed with self-esteem that we have to grovel for an Alamo Draft House? For a Dave and Buster’s? For a Target? It’s as if the city government believes we would somehow be validated by the gracious presence of an Alamo Draft House. Decent people who love and respect our city believe none of those entities, nor all of them combined, are worth $5 million in public funds.

Fifth, the proposal entirely wipes away the purported advantages for cities under the sort of Chapter 380 agreement being considered. Generally, the advantage of a 380 agreement is that the city receives valuable infrastructure at no up-front cost, because the developer builds the infrastructure and later receives tax abatements over time to cover those costs. But that advantage is out the window here, because the city is going to pay those up-front costs with a loan to the developer. And the city isn’t even going to really get it back. After three years of making no payments on $5 million in loans, the developer would repay the city $250,000 per year for 20 years. So, after 23 years, the city would only have $5 million, which would be worth about $2.5 million in today’s dollars by then.

Sixth, the proposal works at crossed purposes with the city’s downtown master plan, an official policy planning document. Though the downtown master plan nowhere states specifically that downtown should be “the” entertainment district, the plan is also quite certain that the city should direct its efforts downtown.

For example (from page 26 of the plan), “The ease of process in developing along IH-35 competes with the difficulty of developing in a less-utilized Downtown. The City will need to take an active role in directing some of this development into the Downtown if it is to realize its vision for a revitalized center. The future vibrancy of the Downtown may also be threatened by the perception that Downtown is no longer a viable place for businesses whether they be office, service, or entertainment-based. Some members of the business community question the City’s commitment to recruiting new businesses to San Marcos and especially to the Downtown, and see this as one of the biggest threats to the realization of a revitalized Downtown.”

The downtown master plan is dated July 2008. The Springtown incentive is exactly the kind of threat the business community had in mind. Then there’s this, from page 48, discussing downtown: “San Marcos should encourage the establishment of ‘third places’ distinct from home and work, such as coffee shops, internet cafes, alfresco dining areas, pubs, bookstores, and the like, that foster a culture of informal gathering, socializing, conversing and exchanging ideas. The best third places are adjacent to sidewalks and public spaces; each benefits greatly through association with the other.”

And this, from page 62: “(T)he City should promote the local, specialty retail, restaurant, and entertainment businesses, and encourage the establishment or more ‘third places’ businesses Downtown.”

Business owners, taking the downtown master plan as a commitment from the city, have followed suit by taking risks downtown. Should they feel betrayed? Or should we merely call them fools for believing the city actually intended to support its downtown master plan?

If private investors want to pick out a location outside downtown for an entertainment district, they’re certainly free to do so. But should the city, in essence, partner financially with such interests, knowing they might weaken the downtown square after city policy has documented a commitment to downtown? The city should not be involved in creating that problem by incentivising it.

The city council is seriously considering a $5 million incentive to a developer who would seriously compromise the city’s ability to create a downtown environment visualized by official plans. The council is considering a government subsidized entertainment center where the location, alone, is plenty good enough to stimulate private investment. The city council is seriously considering another subsidy for minimum wage jobs in a town that desperately needs to incentivise for real jobs. Furthermore, the agreement would sign away the advantage of making a Chapter 380 agreement in the first place, all just to prove that we will wag our tail for the lowest hanging fruits of economic development to the disadvantage of local business owners.

This proposal makes the city look bad, and it’s bad policy. When the city council convenes on July 7, it should run, not walk, from this sucker deal.

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0 thoughts on “Editorial: City should not subsidize Springtown entertainment proposal

  1. Agreed. We’ve come too far with our “local flavor” downtown to hurt it with corporate welfare. It’s hard for me to believe that this is even being considered.

  2. I have watched for years as city governments enable the destruction of lively downtown districts with their locally-owned businesses throughout the country.

    Why not put an Alamo Drafthouse in downtown San Marcos?

    Why not make sure no local businesses are run out of town by franchises that divert profits elsewhere and do not offer actual better service or products to the citizens?

    Why incentivize overblown develop schemes with taxpayer money? Who paid for that favor? How much does it cost to get this kind of special treatment?

    Downtown San Marcos is a delightful and vibrant business and entertainment district and I doubt that this town can support two such areas.

    This happens time and time again: Businesses move away from the city center to strip malls on the edge of town where developers can buy land cheap and get tax abatements to “develop”…..and the city center declines. Then some time later, a new “revitalization” program is touted as the Next New Thing, with varying degrees of success. Too often, the stores never return and all these downtowns are left with are antique emporia and historical plaques.

    Seems to me that one could have left well enough alone and the citizens who actually live in the community would have been better served.

  3. once again the city council “misses the mark” – another bad idea to waste what little resources the city has….we really needed to “help” Target and JCPenny with tax credits? Before we start giving interest free loans to big businesses, why don’t FIRST finish the downtown incentives and DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE STREETS AND TRAFFIC. Sidewalks and bike lanes and getting the railroad companies to fix their all too often malfunctioning gates would be a nice start.

  4. djagno,

    You sound like the same folks that said downtown San Marcos would die because of the outlet malls in San Marcos. At that time, downtown San Marcos was already seeing businesses closing down. San Marcos would be in a giant pickle with out the sales tax revenues (and the other economic development contributions) that Tanger and Prime contribute.

    I need more info before commenting on this project. I will say that it is easy to caste stones. Try having a discussion about creating solutions.

  5. Alamo Draft House did not consider downtown for one simple reason, lack of parking. For the 5 million the city is considering loaning these developers to revitilize Springtown a parking garage could be built downtown, which would pretty much solve our parking problem.

    This parking garage is not a pie in the sky dream. We know where it can be built, architectural plans have been drawn up for this garage. Downtown businesses have been pushing for this garage for at least 3 years.

  6. So, ARMYDAD, it sounds like you think it’s a good idea for the city to give these developers a $5 million interest free loan so they can undermine the city’s downtown master plan. I don’t believe the city had made the commitment of a downtown master plan when the outlet malls came along. Certainly, the businesses in the outlet mall don’t compete against downtown night spots.

  7. It’s about time that a news source in San Marcos spoke up about the policies of the city government. I agree 100% that the city should not be subsidizing any businesses where the profits are sent anywhere else but to San Marcos itself. Also, the downtown business district IS and SHOULD BE the entertainment district for our area.
    Tax breaks don’t need to be given to big box stores like WalMart and Sam’s. Especially in view of the fact that they underpay and mistreat their employees as a rule of doing business.
    This area needs better paying jobs so that we don’t become a “suburb” of Austin or San Antonio. Let’s subsidize local citizens and help them to open more businesses of their own, benefitting both the area and the citizens. $5,000,000 in loans could support a lot of local business.

  8. The outlet malls is certainly where all the clothing store opportunities in San Marcos now reside. You cannot buy clothes downtown as one certainly once could.

    Recall the days when downtown was where one went to shop?

    Those days are over, replaced by any number of strip centers over the years. Now, pretty much all these revitalized downtowns (and I am talking about lots of towns, not just San Marcos) have to offer is places to eat and drink.

    If this is what people want, then fine, but I am just saying that all-too-often, the businesses that are closed down in these conversions were local businesses with money and jobs that stayed in the community, whereas, the newer businesses are usually national, even international franchises with no loyalty to our community (they leave when things get slow) and their profits are sent to headquarters elsewhere.

    The only thing San Marcos/Hays County makes on the outlet mall phenomenon is sales and property taxes. Think what it would benefit the community if the actual profits from these many businesses went to local people and to the local economy.

  9. In working on the downtown master plan an old downtown master plan was discovered from the mid 70s. That was when there was still a lot of retail in downtown. It is clear in looking at that document that the beginning of the end of downtown San Marcos as a retail center was ironically, the building of Springtown Mall in the 70s. Pennys had been in the Rogers building at the corner of Hopkins and LBJ until they moved to Springtown. This was all long before the Outlet mall came along

  10. ARMYDAD, and anyone else, do you own a business downtown?
    If you do not, your ONLY concern should be solely on the fact that YOUR city government is proposing that they TAKE the right to spend even more of OUR tax dollars to fund a project that will ONLY help the business’s moving in, not the community.
    We were promised a revised and updated “Master Plan”. We got it, but that’s all we got, a plan. These kinds of projects contradict what the master plan was supposed to help do and that’s to go towards the revitalization of downtown. If your OK with that, your entitled to voice that opinion come the next election day. The rest of us choose to speak out now about how we think that kind of money would be better spent.

    You cant have a discussion about a topic when the topic is not opened for discussion. Right now the only “discussion” we are being afforded is going to be held directly before a decision will be made by council. No one is “casting stones”, the info you need is above in the editorial. If you didn’t read it first, you should have!

  11. I never said I was in support of this project. Do you think every business downtown keeps profits in San Marcos? You would be wrong. If you think bad employee relations do not exisit downtown, you would be wrong. The City has made a commitment to downtown by funding the Mainstreet project over many years. How much was spent a few years ago with the downtown streetscape? Both Prime and Tanger continue to make contributions besides sales tax revenue to the community. You can still purchase clothing in downtown today. Gabby Bs and other clothing shops exist today. There are more clothing stores in downtown San Marcos today than the year Tanger opened.

    The info above is an editorial. I hope you do not base your solutions on only editorials. The editorial is the only information I currently have on this project.

    A discussion is taking place. It is called representative goverment. Call the Mayor and City Council and let them hear your concerns.

    Larry, thanks for pointing to a solution. Maybe the solution to parking downtown is to build a downtown garage and have the downtown businesses pay the City of San Marcos for half of the cost. Leaders in a few other downtown communities have asked their City goverment to tax (impose a fee) them at a higher rate as other businesses and spend those funds raised on only their downtown area.

  12. The median household income in San Marcos is $31,500 and 28.5% of our population is below the poverty level. Those numbers ought to be disturbing to anyone who sees them and anyone offering incentives to businesses that will LOWER the median income in San Marcos ought to have their head examined!

  13. Unfortunately the rhetoric is jobs, jobs, jobs, and on paper a minimum wage job and a livable job are counted the same in the “net jobs” statistic.

  14. My point exactly!
    The specific problem here is the potential misspending of our tax dollars. Not jobs, parking or competition. They are all relevant, but focus on the right point here satisfies those concerns.
    If these business’s want to come to town, they already have their own means and clearly a place to move into. But let them do it the way the rest of us have had to, on their own dime! All the majority of us are saying is that we don’t need to fund it for them! This vacancy issue can be solved in the private sector between developers and land owners.
    For fun, calculate the incentives that Target specifically has been given to first come to town (Springtown), then to move (Stone Creek), and now if we help them to sell their property in Springtown by funding the developers that would buy their property.
    Some of us feel that if were going to “fund” a project in Springtown, lets fund one that would really do something for the community, like The Triangle Residences in Austin, or The Artisan in Round Rock. Then fill it with San Marcos residents & business’s.
    This would add downtown residency, jobs, tax dollars etc.. And all the while do it without adding to the obvious and ongoing problem in downtown San Marcos, lack of DAYTIME parking.
    Again, this is a suggestion, not “the answer”. With the “master plan” we were at least given a chance to be heard. Here, our only chance to be heard is going to be directly before a decision is made. Unless you speak up now!
    The points and suggestions mentioned above in other comments are all good, but have been exhausted for the most part by various “Downtown/Main Street” groups. It is time for individual citizens to speak as well.
    The article above is “just” an editorial, true, but facts are facts!

  15. In just the past 3 years we (the City of San Marcos) have more than doubled our total long-term debt. We need to start sharpening our pencils better!

  16. Journalism ethics 101: Where is the mention that Newstream’s ownership has a vested interest {ie, ownership of buildings!} in the downtown square area? Could that be clouding your views on this editorial? When CNN reports on Time Warner, they add disclaimer it’s their parent company. Same with NBC and GE. All legitimate news organizations do this to be fair and credible with listeners/readers. Newsstream should do the same as any trained journalist knows from day one.

  17. I’m not sure I agree with you on this one. While Scott Greggson might own property in the downtown area, this is his personal property, independent from the Newstreamz company. I believe we need to draw a line between people’s personal lives and their business involvements. It’s just not the parallel analogy with corporate subsidiaries. Moreover, I know from personal discussions with individual reporters at Newstreamz in the past how they feel about the need to continue to maintain and develop a dynamic downtown in San Marcos. So I, for one, am certain that this is not being “clouded” by any vested interest by ONE of the several partners of Newstreamz. And if you look at all the comments being generated, this opinion is not in the minority.

    By the way Chris, besides being a watchdog for bad media practices, what exactly is your opinion on this issue?

  18. If the city council wants to give away our hard earned cash to support “smart growth” and economic development, they should do the following:

    1. Put in more parks, bike trails, and fix up the existing parks (they are in a perpetually sorry state)

    2. Partner with Hays County to find more greenbelts and mixed use recreation nearby.

    3. Use incentives to woo a business or industry that brings jobs that require college degrees.

    Our only real industry here pays barely over minimum wage. I would love to work where I live, but until we fix this town up and add more recreation, we won’t be able to woo any worthwhile industry, and those of us who went to college here will continue to need to commute to Austin for work.

  19. How about interest-free loans for startups in preferred industries (based on a plan to attract certain sectors to San Marcos)? $5 million in interes-free loans would provide some nice startup capital for 50 businesses.

    How about refunding tax money to local businesses, instead of refunding Target and JCP?

  20. I appreciate the opportunity of reading the various opinions/comments of others, whether correct or incorrect, both offer insight of which I invariably might overlook. I put forth my very best effort to remain unbiased and of an open mind until I personally have ALL the facts (or as much as I can possibly obtain) prior to formulating a final consensus on a matter and/or issue of importance. Regardless, although I might have spent an enormous amount of time gathering what I thought were the facts, I have discovered that not always do I have THE facts as it is all contingent on the ‘sources’ of obtaining one’s facts.

    Granted, I do have a personal opinion on the Springtown matter but have not yet concluded my ‘fact gathering’. I am familiar with said project. Almost a year ago I was one of several ‘community leaders’ invited to preview the design concept. I asked many questions, presented several concerns and made many comments. For those that know me, I am always tactful, but never shy.

    On that note, I am of the mindset that there are elements of this project that would be very beneficial to San Marcos; therefore, the project itself is deserving of logical consideration by City Council. Currently San Marcos offers minimal entertainment as is sought after and desired by tourists, as well as San Marcos residents (inclusive of the populous Texas State student body as they are indeed San Marcos residents).

    From a tourism perspective San Marcos could potentially increase our hotel occupancy taxes by ultimately increasing San Marcos overnight hotel stays. Even if just one more night, by yet one more tourist. The more that San Marcos has to offer our visiting guests in the form of cultural, dining, sports/entertainment and shopping experiences, the longer their stay. This we know to be a logical win/win.

    Does the above translate into the necessity of a five million dollar loan to said developer(s)? I think not; however, I am willing to await the proposition of the Economic Development San Marcos Board of Directors, as presented to City Council and to be shared at July 7th’s City Council meeting. I trust that the EDSM Board has submitted a logical proposal for council’s consideration and that they have considered and debated all of the pros and cons of the project but most importantly have challenged the overall impact to the San Marcos Community and looking out for the best interest of our community as a whole entity. I personally opt to remain patient until such time.

    On another note and with reference to the written below comment made by django on July 3, 2009 2:10 pm…
    ‘The only thing San Marcos/Hays County makes on the outlet mall phenomenon is sales and property taxes. Think what it would benefit the community if the actual profits from these many businesses went to local people and to the local economy’. I reply with the following…

    I retain the right and beg to differ; however, I do not fault you as it is obvious that you did not know, nor did you have all of the facts; therefore, I have provided you with but a few of some notable benefits and community roles that Tanger Outlet Center-San Marcos plays in the overall outlet mall big picture scheme of things (if you will) and Tanger Outlet’s contributions to the ‘local people and local economy’ consisting of Hays County and the San Marcos Community of which we all proudly work, live and play…

    Again, a notable ‘few’ that come to mind…

    *Donation of $11,425 to four San Marcos schools through our TangerBucks for Schools program (see Newstreamz press release dated June 8, 2009)
    *Tanger Outlet Mall raised nearly $7,000 last fall in a campaign to help fight breast cancer. Tanger presented the funds to Central Texas Medical Center for their lymphedema therapy program (Newstreamz January 21,2009)
    *Sponsored the Hays County Women’s Shelter Gala fundraiser
    *Hays County Cattle Baron’s Ball & Fashion Show
    *Hays CISD & SMCISD Project Graduations
    *San Marcos Relay for Life host and sponsor
    *Hays County Heart Walk
    *Blue Santa toy drive
    *Hays County Area Food Bank drive
    *Achieving Community Together (ACT)
    *Red Cross Blood Drive
    *Hays County Probation sponsor/donation
    *SM Future Farmers of America donation
    *San Marcos Chamber of Commerce
    *San Marcos Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
    *Buda Chamber of Commerce
    *Kyle Chamber of Commerce
    *LBJ Museum sponsor (our 600 common area corridor is dedicated space for promoting the museum)
    *Summerfest San Marcos sponsor
    *Sights-n-Sounds of Christmas event & gala sponsor
    *Central Texas Medical Center Gala sponsor
    *Big Brothers, Big Sisters partner
    *City of San Marcos Co-Op partnership (matching funds)
    *Texas State Athletics/Camps sponsor
    *SMCISD Teacher Appreciation sponsor
    *SMCISD school supply drive host
    *Administrative Professional’s luncheon sponsor
    *SMCVB Tourism Appreciation sponsor
    *PetFest contributor
    *SM Animal Shelter food/supplies drive
    *Cinco de Mayo contributor
    *Annual donations to both San Marcos Police & Fire Departments
    *Donated two defibrillators to San Marcos Police Department
    *Donated $250 to Hays County Fire Department Association
    *Sunshine Kids
    *San Marcos Police substation (donation of suite space in one of our common area corridors)


  21. I understand the desire to promote local businesses, but people also need to remember that without some major (ie big box) development, our city simply won’t grow or prosper. The days when we can realistically consider ourselves a “quiet local community” are long gone and if people don’t recognize that fact then there will be a lot of hurt feelings.

    Tourists simply aren’t going to come to San Marcos or stay in San Marcos because we have a locally-owned and operated downtown area. People are going to come to San Marcos because there are recognizable attractions for them to frequent between shopping excursions to the outlet mall.

    The benefits of developments like the Outlet mall, the new Stone Creek development, and even the proposed redevelopment of Springtown Center go far beyond the populist cry of “tax abatements” and “low wages”.

    Between the promotion of tourism, filling up our hotels during the summers, and giving these restaurants patrons to sustain them, the “ripple effects” of these businesses make them integral to our local economy.

    Besides , do any of you really think that “locally owned” restaurants or retail stores pay their employees any more than the same minimum wages being offered by the big box stores?

  22. Actually, there are a lot of tourist destinations in the Hill Country, which are driven by locally owned businesses. Go to Fredericksburg for a weekend. Or Wimberley.

    As for wages, you’re completely missing the point. Locally owned restaurants and retail stores pay the same as national chains (maybe less). The point is that we need to focus our energy and our money on attracting businesses in other sectors, like technology, pharmaceutical, finance, green energy, or whatever we decide is the best fit for the city and the university.

    The “ripple” of an economy driven by retail sales has given us nearly 30% of our population living below the poverty level.

  23. I expected the “Wimberley” or “Fredericksburg” comparisons to pop up and all I can say is that it’s apples and oranges.

    Neither Fredericksburg nor Wimberley are located on a major interstate, neither have a major university in town, and neither have the outlet mall.

    Like it or not, those three things define the San Marcos economy more than any other factor….and no amount of wishing otherwise will change that fact.

    Instead of wasting time and effort trying to reach that pie in the sky, we should be trying to find ways to take those three elements and maximize their benefit for the rest of us. Instead of waving battle axes at every developer who comes to town, we should be engaging them in negotiations to find a deal that works for everyone – yes, even local business owners.

    Now I know that we (as a public) were not all privy to the entirety of the demands made by the developers in this case, and the 7-0 council vote against their proposals makes me think that there was something there that simply wasn’t kosher….but this is the kind of development that San Marcos needs to continue to consider and even embrace if we are to grow with the times and not stagnate.

  24. They came up, because you brought them up by saying that people will not stay for the day or weekend (or longer) for local flavor, but only “recognizable attractions.”

    When I think of most tourism destinations, local flavor is what draws people. I didn’t go to Key West in search of Dave and Buster’s, or Target. Nor did I go to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for those. That’s not why I used to go to 6th street, or why I went to New Orleans. It’s not why I went to Lake Tahoe, or Boston, or Newport Rhode Island, or, come to think of it, anywhere, big or small, near or far.

    Also, the Alamo Drafthouse has nine locations. Most of them are in Austin and San Antonio. This does not strike me as an extremely “recognizable attraction” to people coming here from out of state, or out of the country. I’m not even sure if people in Dallas know what it is, since they have none. So, I am not sure that this would provide any more compelling draw than the historic downtown area and the Tap Room, or Sean Patrick’s, or J’s, etc.

  25. Assuming, as a starting point, that no one wishes to have a dead downtown for any plan we contemplate, Larry Rasco has reminded us that the one critical obstacle to better downtown development — of whatever kind — always has been,is, and will continue to be, parking. If we persist in ignoring that factor not much else discussed here matters.

    If you want a historic, charming city center, if instead you want a dynamic entertainment area for the city center, if you wanted any other number of uses instead for down town San Marcos, then you need to accommodate the people you expect to use it. Where do you put them while they spend their hard-earned dollars right here in River City?

    A parking garage may be the best/only answer. If you have a better one, put it forth, by all means. The university certainly did a stunning job on the latest one they built… something along those lines would be a community asset from every angle. If our city fathers have already developed a plan for this crucial item for growth, let’s dig that design up, and start working on how to get it done.

    Put a parking garage on the front burner while you debate anything else. It’s either that, or admit prior plans to save downtown were so much lip service.

  26. I believe the university is already going to build a shared-use garage by Subway. Anyone visiting downtown would be able to park there.

  27. I enjoy the downtown area of San Marcos and as a business owner myself I would really feel betrayed if I have invested my time, large sums of money and have taken the risk of opening a new business or even updating my old business on the square thinking that the City of San Marcos was actually serious about supporting the downtown area. As for me, I am tired of local government getting in the middle of what should be a private business matter. I agree and feel that this matter should be let alone until Target decides they no longer want to pay for an empty building and sell it to a private source. The city needs to take that $5 million and intise business that will bring jobs to the area that pay more than minimum wage. Maybe then we could intise some of these bright college graduates to stay in San Marcos because they will be able to have a job that pays a bread winners salary. I am running for City Council Place 5 and this is the type of distraction that local government needs not to be focusing on.

  28. I think the City should support this. The locals do not support Downtown Businesses any way, they prefer to drive to Austin or NB.

    The Springtown Mall area is ideal, plenty of parking and well suited for an entertainment center for all ages.

  29. Did anyone else see the report in the Record, that Sights and Sounds is going to charge a fee for admission this year? According to the report, the organization running that event, who have made numerous permanent improvements to the City Park, is losing money on the event.

    They say they are expecting about 50,000 attendees and are going to charge $1 to $2 apiece. So, they are looking at $50,000 to $100,000.

    The city has how many millions of dollars to subsidize Target, but there isn’t $100,000 available to keep Sights and Sounds a free event? I sure hope this doesn’t result in an appreciable declince in attendance. Many of the vendors at the event are non-profits who raise significant money at this event and I am sure the downtown businesses must see some level of increased traffic from all of those visitors.

    It is also amazing how little money we are talking about, for something that really makes San Marcos special. Imagine how many great events like this we could support, for the cost of one Target deal. The $6 million we spent (refunded) could have kept this one event going strong for 60 to 120 years.

  30. Be prepared for Alamo Drafthouse to make a strong pitch for taxpayer money. It still seems like deals get concocted in “smoke filled back rooms” out of sight from the public. Citizens of San Marcos want, demand more transparency in local government. We desperately need runaway spending reeled in. To have doubled our long-term debt in just three years, and to keep adding more debt to the pile, in this age of economic storms, is not fiscally responsible.

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