C’dale Village would hurt small business
December 20, 2011
There are many reasons to vote against the proposed Village at Crystal River development and very few, if any, reasons to vote for it. The plan itself seems to represent a bit of a “shell game,” where the one confirmed tenant of the new development is already in town. There will be little to no net gain in the number of jobs and no increase in salaries or wages of the workers who move across the street to work at the new facility.
Additionally, it’s hard to imagine that City Market would pay to build a new store without trying to recoup that investment by raising prices. One could argue that the new City Market will draw so many new customers, it won’t have to raise prices to recoup that investment, but this seems unreasonable. Given that there are competing City Market-brand grocery stores in both Glenwood and Basalt, there are simply not enough customers to provide the increased revenue alone. Therefore it seems most likely that there will be increases to the cost of our groceries. Also, the PIF will add 1 percent cost to groceries as well as to all goods purchased at the mall. This 1 percent increase provides no value to us, as it’s only needed for alterations to Highway 133 necessitated by the development itself.
Like the relocated City Market, other aspects of the plan are also unlikely to provide a net increase to the town’s coffers. What businesses are going to move into the Village at Crystal River? As any locally based shop could most likely move into one of the many vacant commercial properties in town, the kinds of business that would eventually fill in the Village at Crystal River would most likely be non-local business. As many studies have shown, money spent at non-locally owned businesses has a smaller economic benefit to the town than money spent at locally owned ones. This is because locally owned businesses tend to use other locally owned businesses when purchasing services, such as accounting, in contrast to non-local businesses. So, even if the Village at Crystal River eventually did attract businesses, these wouldn’t be the kinds of businesses that would best benefit the town. Additionally, these businesses would compete with our locally owned shops, and this would again not provide any net increase in town revenue.
The Village at Crystal River development doesn’t play to Carbondale’s economic strengths. We have a wonderful downtown, one that is charming and very inviting. People do come into town for our events, such as First Friday, the Farmers Market and music and events at Steve’s Guitars, PAC3, The 3rd Street Center and the Carbondale BeerWorks. A big part of Carbondale’s charm is that it doesn’t have the generic mall development common to so many other towns. We have a real identity, and that identity is attractive and compelling.
Let’s not dilute it by dwarfing the presence of downtown with a large mall built on old economic models.
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