With all respect, that's not any type of argument for doing it. If the private sector would do it, there would be no need to even think about using tax dollars. It is, at best, a necessary condition for consideration of the city's plan, but it's hardly sufficient.
Here is what is missing.
Why won't the private sector do it?
After all, $ 35 million is hardly beyond the capacity of private financiers. Ironically, the editorial board hits the nail on the head when it admits that it would "like to have a better idea of how this development fits into a comprehensive economic development strategy for Milwaukee" and that it remains to be seen " how to persuade businesses that returning to Milwaukee's central city is a good move."
This is a little like saying that my budget for next year is complete. Now I just have to figure out how to get some money.
Of course, neither the paper nor the city want to say that there is nothing that can be done to re-vitalize a huge expanse of land that looks like the set for "Escape from New York." Certainly, we can - we must - do something that can help. But wishing it were so does not make it so. It's not as if there are no reasons to think that the area might not be an appropriate site for economic development, but the City's current plan passes a distressing resemblance to an episode of South Park.
Of course, I'm having fun and it may be that the project turns out to be the right thing. In fact, I sincerely hope it does. There may well be circumstances in which private money turns out to be necessary to unlock development and, while I think those circumstances are wildly overstated both by public officials and developers hankering for taxpayer largesse, it is possible that this is one of them.
But what planners hope will turn out to be another Menomonee Valley could end up as a second Park East corridor.
Would it be better to wait until there are some committed users for the site rather than clearing it on spec. the result may be a long, slow process of attracting small and marginal users. Perhaps that's the best use of the money. But shouldn't that possibility - perhaps even that likelihood - be acknowledged?