Convention Center: I couldn’t have said it better myself

It seems that other Albuquerque leaders are finally speaking out in opposition to the idiotic idea of wasting $400 million tax dollars (or more once cost overruns are factored in) on a convention center expansion. I’ve written about it before here and more recently here, but this week saw hotelier Jim Long call the project “an economic albatross” among other unkind things.

Then there was this excellent opinion piece in today’s paper by former Councilman Pete Dinelli. Dinelli recounted from firsthand experience how proponents over-promise and under-deliver with these projects. They’ve done it in Albuquerque and I didn’t even know taxpayers had a stake in a downtown hotel already. Also, it is interesting that Dinelli points to past “urban renewal” projects as having destroyed downtown’s character, thus putting us in the spot we are in today. No surprise there as this has been a recurring theme across the nation: high-minded politicians and politically-connected businesses guide development to conform to some plan and things flop on a magnificent scale.

I do have one quibble with Dinelli’s proposed solutions. While Albuquerque has great amenities for a city of its size, what truly needs to happen to make downtown Albuquerque a destination is for those office buildings to be filled with workers (private sector ones ideally). That is what fuels everything else when it comes to downtown development. I realize the national economy is down right now, but the fact is that downtown wasn’t destroyed overnight and it won’t be rebuilt overnight. We need economic and regulatory policies that will bring thriving businesses (and their financial and human resources) to Albuquerque. Until then, forget being a national or international destination.